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Southampton City Council slammed for giving staff day off on full pay
COUNCIL staff and teachers in Southampton who could not work because of snow will not lose any pay, the Daily Echo can reveal.
Workers forced to stay at home by the cold snap were given the day off on full pay. In contrast, workers at other councils had to take holiday or will be expected to make up the time.
Campaigners have slammed head teachers and council chiefs for leaving taxpayers to pick up the bill.
During the snowfall on Friday, more than 400 schools closed across Hampshire amid health and safety concerns. But the Daily Echo can reveal many public servants in the county’s services were given the day off if school closures meant they had to stay home to look after their children.
Southampton City Council, which saw more than 70 of its schools shut, said the policy was to allow a day off on full pay if people could work from home.
A spokesman said: “If they don’t have the facility to work from home or are unable to do so because their job is say manual, like cleaning – then they have to advise their line manager to allow them to take a discretionary day off.”
At Hampshire police, Southampton General Hospital and the Royal South Hants Hospital in Southampton, staff could arrange emergency or carers’ leave on full pay.
Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service said it gave parents the choice of taking a holiday or making up the hours later. Hampshire County Council, which employs 37,000 staff, said its policy was to ask staff to take a holiday day. Teachers were expected to work from home doing tasks such as planning and marking.
Jonathan Isaby, political director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, criticised the decision to close schools.
He said: “Most people had to struggle into work in the snow, so schools too must do their best to remain open, unless there is a cast-iron justification for shutting the classrooms.
“Even if only a proportion of the teaching staff can make it in, the school doors ought to remain open in order to minimise disruption.”
Brian Lightman, of the Association of School and College Leaders, said closing schools was not taken lightly by head teachers. He said: “Heads know that the decision to close will be inconvenient for parents but they also know that it would be negligent of them to put children at risk in an unsafe environment.”
Today was due to be dry and fine but with temperatures not reaching above 2C (36F). Tomorrow will start off dry but by the afternoon rain will push in which could turn to snow. Maximum temperatures will be 4C (39F).