Impact of Inclement Weather on Employees

Question:

With the cold months and potential for bad weather, I’m concerned about the possibility of weather impeding our employees’ ability to get to work. What workplace practices and policies do we need to consider?

Answer:

Great Question, and kudos to you for proactively thinking about potential challenges for your employees and the business. As we move into these colder months with inclement weather, there are a few things that you should consider ahead of time that will help you, your employees, and organization.

By discussing the issue with your management, you can determine what their expectations are for employees should inclement weather impact the employees’ abilities to get to work. You’ll want to talk with your management about:

  • How do they want to handle employees coming to work when the weather may be bad? Are you encouraging employees to be present or is it acceptable to work from home?
  • What will they use to determine if the office would be closed? Consider the level of the weather emergency declared for the county you are located in as well as surrounding counties and how that impacts your decision to close the office.
  • How will they notify employees whether the office is closed or start of day is delayed?
  • Will they allow employees to work remotely on “snow days” and do you have the appropriate processes / connections in place to assure they are productive?

Additionally, you’ll want to be prepared to discuss some key issues with your management, specifically how pay is impacted. Things to consider include:

  • For non-exempt employees, the company is not required to pay the employees. Companies have the choice of:
    • Paying them for the day, even if they don’t work.
    • Not paying them – as long as they conduct no work. This includes quick emails or texts to the non-exempt employee for a “quick question”. If you are asking them a “quick question”, you must pay them for the time worked.
    • Paying them Paid Time Off / Vacation – either requiring them to take it or allowing them to choose PTO or not be paid for the day.
  • For exempt employees, if the company closes, the employee must be paid their regular salary. You may require them to use accrued Paid Time Off / Vacation during a closure, IF you have a policy in place and/or that has been past practice.  If the exempt employee does not have enough accrued time to cover the closure, you are still required to pay them and allow them to go “negative” with their balance.

Keep in mind that PTO is generally voluntarily chosen by the employee, and then is approved or denied by the employer based on business needs. The employer can make it mandatory for employees to use PTO for hours not worked due to missing work due to weather. Again, PTO policies should be stated in a company handbook to avoid any misunderstandings around when employees can use PTO.

Finally, following this discussion with management, we recommend that you formally document the plan into an Inclement Weather Policy and add it to your employee handbook, or at a minimum, notify your employees of your expectations.

If you need assistance in creating a severe weather policy for your workplace, strategic HR inc. can help you. Contact Us to learn more about how we can help you with this policy or any other policies for your employee handbook.