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HR Policy
To Be Categorised
Head of Partnership
HR Policy Group
Director of Workforce, Employee Director
01 April 2013
01 November 2021
01 December 2022



NHS Fife acknowledges and agrees with the importance of regular and timely review of policy statements and aims to review policies within the timescales set out.

New policies will be subject to a review date of no more than 1 year from the date of first issue.

Reviewed policies will have a review date set that is relevant to the content (advised by the author) but will be no longer than 3 years.

If a policy is past its review date then the content will remain extant until such time as the policy review is complete and the new version published, or there are national policy or legislative changes.




The purpose of this policy is to ensure that a fair and consistent approach is adopted when normal daily travelling arrangements of staff to and from work are disrupted by such events as severe weather conditions, Forth Bridge crossings closing and public transport disruption.


All employees of NHS Fife are considered to be essential and in applying this policy the priority is to ensure that there are sufficient skilled staff on duty to provide an appropriate level of service to the patients.


This policy covers all operational hours within NHS Fife, for example, day operation only health centres and offices to the full 24 hours, 7 days a week service areas.


Please note Appendix 1 contains the arrangements detailed in DL (2022) 35, 10 November 2022 which replace DL (2019)17 published in October 2019 and all existing local Adverse Weather Policies currently in operation. They should be implemented immediately across NHSScotland.




This policy applies to all employees of NHS Fife.




The responsibility for the application of the policy rests with Line Managers within NHS Fife and HR staff.






NHS Scotland provides a number of essential services in hospitals, clinics and in the community, which must continue to operate in extreme weather conditions. Decisions about which services are essential, will be taken in line with local and national resilience planning arrangements, and the clinical/care needs of service users. This may change over time, depending on the length and severity of adverse weather events. Employers will communicate such decisions, through managers, to all staff. Managers will, in turn, make all reasonable efforts to ensure that staff are aware of service changes.


Staff should not feel compelled to take undue risks in order to attend work and should consider whether it is safe to travel.


Managers should also be aware that individual members of staff may be differentially impacted as a result of their personal circumstances, such as those who are living with a physical disability and pregnant workers etc. Staff may also be impacted as a result of where they live in relation to where they work and what their usual travel options are.


Service closure


The health, safety and wellbeing of staff should be prioritised when taking decisions about service closure. Managers will contact their appropriate executive lead (or designated manager) to request formal closure of non-essential services, in line with the mechanisms put into place by the board. Employers, managers and staff should be mindful of their responsibilities to maintain effective communications. Decisions to close services or alter service provision should be taken as early as possible and all reasonable efforts should be made to directly contact affected staff.



Staff who drive as part of their work must assess whether it is safe to continue to undertake those journeys. This should be discussed with their manager. Staff should work closely with management to make sure that risks are assessed and managed in a systematic and ongoing way. Staff should make regular contact with their manager if they are to continue working, including providing regular updates on their whereabouts.


Where services have been suspended, staff may be redeployed to ensure the continuity of essential service provision. Staff may also be directed to work from another location or at home, where their role would allow them to do so. In situations where staff cannot be redeployed or work elsewhere, and they are sent home, full payment for the relevant shift will be made.


All staff are expected to make every reasonable effort to report for duty on time and remain on duty for their rostered period. Managers will exercise discretion in approving late arrival for and early departure from duty and will approve payment of salary or wages in full where satisfied all reasonable efforts to get to work on time and remain at work were made.


In exceptional circumstances staff may be required to carry out duties not normally associated with their post during periods that there are insufficient staff available to provide the appropriate level of care to patients. Staff will not be allowed to carry out duties that require additional training or would put them or others at risk.


It is recognised that a Policy dealing with this issue cannot be, nor should it be, completely prescriptive. Decision making process must be guided by the principle of reasonableness taking into account relevant individual circumstances and service needs as necessary. 





Employees who consider that they may experience difficulty in getting to work on time due to travel disruption should contact their manager before the start of their shift. An employee in this situation should also advise the same manager upon arrival at work. Where the manager is satisfied that the employee is likely to have (or has had) genuine travel difficulties, and that all reasonable options have been considered to get to work on time, they should regard the employee as having completed their conditioned hours for that shift (i.e. the employee does not have to make up time or lose payment). Where advice is issued around avoiding peak time travel, managers should adopt a flexible approach to working patterns to enable employees to attend work and return home safely.



It should be ensured that staff arriving late or leaving early as a result of disruption to their travel arrangements, do not suffer any detriment as a result of their decision to attend work. Where it is safe to do so, staff should be encouraged to attend work even if not for a whole shift, in order to promote essential service provision.


In some circumstances, managers should consider the early release of staff (including altering shift change-over times). Managers should also appropriately consider all reasonable staff requests to leave work early, due to adverse conditions (such as if they have a greater distance to travel). Staff whose circumstances make it essential that they be allowed to leave earlier e.g. those who have dependants who have no other carers available or those with particular health problems will be a priority. In such circumstances, having given due regard to the need to maintain essential services, employees can be regarded as having completed their whole shift (i.e. the employee does not have to make up time or lose payment). Where possible, managers should stagger large groups of staff leaving work premises to minimise wider disruption.


Planning for adverse weather/travel disruption


All staff have a responsibility to familiarise themselves with the weather warning system and with the communication mechanisms put into place within NHS Fife for cascading weather warnings and travel disruption. NHS Fife has a responsibility to communicate with all staff in a timely fashion, where adverse weather and/or travel disruption are anticipated. NHS Fife will ensure that staff are aware of the resilience arrangements that are being put into place, including who has delegated authority to take decisions about essential service provision and service closure.



Line managers should make themselves aware of the likely impacts of anticipated adverse weather, taking into account the condition of existing local infrastructure and public transport links. Wherever possible, early action should be taken to mitigate anticipated impacts. The precise nature of service impacts may be difficult to predict, nevertheless, all staff should give consideration to whether meetings can be rearranged and/or postponed to minimise unnecessary travel and promote staff safety. Consideration might also be given to rearranging and/or swapping shifts or working from home where appropriate; the usual clearance mechanisms will apply. In addition, managers should consider establishing arrangements for confirming safe arrival following travel to and from the workplace.


Regular updates of the weather and road conditions will be obtained by the Emergency Planning Officer, who will ensure regular communications are made available to the senior management team and other line managers. Line managers are responsible for keeping their staff informed, for monitoring staffing levels and using discretion where necessary depending on individual staff circumstances. Each area of NHS Fife will have a central point for co-ordination of staff attendance and impact of the situation on service delivery.


Provisions for working at other sites


Where adverse weather is anticipated, NHS Fife is expected to be proactive in establishing contingency plans that allow staff to be deployed to other workplaces within NHS Fife. When deploying staff to another location, the health safety and wellbeing of staff and service users should be prioritised. There is also a need to match employee skills and abilities to facilitate meaningful work for the employee and for the service. Managers should ensure that there is appropriate supervision in place.



In developing standing arrangements local managers should produce a list of alternative deployment options for their staff. Where an employee believes they are not able to get to their usual place of work, they must make contact with their manager (or other designated service manager) at the earliest opportunity. The manager may request that they attend a nearby alternative NHS facility, subject to the agreement of the alternative facility. If this has been agreed with all parties, the staff member concerned may then travel to their alternative place of work. The staff member concerned should contact their manager on arrival to indicate that they have arrived safely.


In certain circumstances, employees may be able to assist with the provision of health services at the nearest, appropriate NHS establishment and be deployed to these areas where appropriate. The line manager or staff member should liaise with the manager at the nearest, appropriate workplace. When deploying staff to another location the health, safety and wellbeing of staff and service users should be prioritised. They should contact the manager at the alternative workplace to establish whether or not they can provide assistance in the circumstances. See Appendix 2 for further guidance.


Boards must maintain appropriate security and risk management arrangements. Employees presenting at an alternative facility will be required to provide their ID badge or other form of photographic ID. The receiving facility will deploy the staff member and provide appropriate supervision for the shift. The staff member should also be informed of emergency evacuation procedures and who their immediate manager will be for the shift.


Where health boards have existing arrangements for deployment at alternative institutions across Board boundaries, these will continue to operate as before. Provision for deployment across board boundaries must comply with the health, safety, security and risk requirements and management arrangements set out at paragraphs 14-16, above.


Home working may be an appropriate alternative to reporting for work, where staff are unable to reach their normal place of work or an alternative base particularly for those staff who are already working in a Hybrid way. However, arrangements for working at home should only be made following agreement with the manager. Decisions about whether home working is appropriate will depend on the staff member’s role, whether they have the equipment to work safely from home and whether they need to be alternatively deployed to ensure essential service provision.


In adverse weather conditions, working from home should only be an alternative to normal working arrangements if staff are unable to travel to work premises.




Discretion will be exercised to approve absence from duty where a manager is satisfied that an employee has made all reasonable efforts to get to work, and all alternative working arrangements have been explored and are not viable. Staff may be granted up to one week’s paid special leave to deal with urgent and predominantly unforeseen circumstances, where other forms of leave are not applicable. A further working week may be offered at the discretion of the manager. Staff who find it impossible to attend work are required to:

· telephone their line manager, where possible, without undue delay and explain the position.

· telephone their line manager daily with an update on the current situation.



Staff should not experience financial detriment. All reasonable steps should be taken to provide alternative solutions, including re-arranging shifts, and making time up. In circumstances where a staff member is likely to require extended leave, it may be appropriate to discuss the use of other forms of leave, particularly where discretionary paid special leave entitlements have been exhausted.


If disagreements arise as to the provision of special leave, these should be raised locally with line management in the first instance. Where a satisfactory resolution cannot be found, the matter may be considered in line with the provisions of the NHSScotland Grievance Policy . This sets out that staff are strongly encouraged, wherever possible, to resolve any disagreement informally. Ultimately, if a staff member feels that they cannot informally resolve a disagreement, then they may formally raise a grievance.


Where an employee has failed to report for duty and, following a full investigation of the circumstances, the manager considers the reason to be unacceptable it will be in order to allocate outstanding annual leave or unpaid leave. It will be the responsibility of the manager to confirm the basis upon which they have made such an allocation. If an employee is aggrieved by this decision they will have the right to raise this issue under the NHS Scotland Workforce Grievance policy.


Staff should not be compelled by their employer to take annual leave as a result of adverse weather. Staff members may opt to use annual leave where they require extended leave and/or have exhausted other paid leave entitlements. Provision of other forms of paid leave.


In cases where care arrangements for dependants have broken down due to unforeseen adverse weather conditions, leave may be recorded as Special Leave (Carers Leave) on the first day of absence. This should not be used for meeting anticipated care needs. In circumstances where normal care arrangements are likely to be disrupted, reasonable alternatives should be explored wherever possible.


If weather conditions become so severe that schools, nurseries and/or day centres are closed suddenly and with very little or no prior warning, staff required to take time off to look after dependants may be given Special Leave (Carers Leave) on the first day of absence. Staff are required to make all reasonable endeavours to secure alternative care provision for their dependents. Managers may record leave on subsequent days as Special Leave (Carers Leave), depending on the individual circumstances.




In the event that the best option for a member of staff is to remain on the premises, arrangements should be made to provide appropriate accommodation for them. If, during the course of their working responsibilities, staff are stranded on work premises, or where staff are unable to make it home as a result of travel disruption, NHS Fife will ensure that appropriate arrangements are made to provide staff with accommodation (at no charge). Accommodation will be offered subject to the relevant constraints and location of the individuals affected. The availability and type of accommodation offered may vary. In all circumstances the health, safety and wellbeing of staff concerned will be prioritised. There will be no charge for this accommodation.



Where the best option for a member of staff is to remain on the premises, regular meals and drinks should also be made available without cost to the staff member. Staff should not be instructed to stay at work outside of normal working hours if they are able to return home.


Where the best option for a member of staff is to remain on the premises, regular meals and drinks should also be made available without cost to the staff member. Staff should not be instructed to stay at work outside of normal working hours if they are able to return home.


There may be circumstances in which staff agree to remain on the premises, in order to provide cover for staff unable to travel. In such circumstances, staff should be provided with access to meals and drinks and provided with appropriate remuneration or time off in lieu. Employers should also be mindful of their obligations under the Working Time Regulations. Staff are entitled by law to a rest period of not less than eleven consecutive hours in each 24 hour period.

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