Health staff may have to use leave to cover weather absences

HSE memo says this week’s expected weather event is different to Storm Ophelia

A man walks with an umbrella under heavy snow in Pogradec, Albania. Photograph: Gent Shkullaku/AFP/Getty Images

A man walks with an umbrella under heavy snow in Pogradec, Albania. Photograph: Gent Shkullaku/AFP/Getty Images

 

Health service staff have been advised that those unable to attend work due to the expected bad weather this week may have to use their annual leave to cover any absences.

In a memo sent to all workers, the national director of human resources at the HSE said the situation was different to that of Storm Ophelia.

In that event, those who were unable to attend work, or had to leave their place of work for health and safety reasons, were paid for the hours which they had been scheduled to work, without having to take annual leave or another form of leave.

The memo, sent to staff on Tuesday, said: “This arrangement applies to Storm Ophelia only.

“Additionally, where such an event occurs in the future, where for health and safety reasons some employees are unable to attend for duty, those affected can be granted annual leave from their allocation for the hours they were scheduled to work.

“If the employee has no annual leave remaining, they may use leave from the next leave cycle, and have their allocation adjusted accordingly.”

The letter does not make any reference to the expected weather event.

‘Perverse incentive’

The HSE arrangements were questioned by Fianna Fáil TD Marc MacSharry, who said they created a perverse incentive to go to work.

Mr MacSharry said it was extreme “penny-pinching by Government, administered by the HSE”.

He added: “How is this a different situation to that of Storm Ophelia? It puts struggling families in a very difficult situation where they feel bound to attend work.”

Meanwhile, the Oireachtas has advised that it may close later in the week if the storm takes hold.

Members and staff will be advised on Wednesday if “opening hours for the rest of the week will be reviewed”.