What Should Your Employees Do During the Next Snowpocalypse?

Written by Robert G. Brody on January 25, 2011

As another snow storm heads our way, we want to take a moment to ensure all employers have a clear, thought-out inclement weather policy for their businesses.  Having such a policy shows employees you are concerned about their safety and it’s good for business.  Without one, there can be confusion among employees, causing them to head to work in dangerous weather conditions and frustration when they see work is closed.  Here are some things to consider in creating an inclement weather policy:

  • How will you communicate weather closings?  Employers should establish a notification system, whether it is by phone chain, email, or a message left on the company’s voicemail system.  If you are a major employer, local radio stations will make the announcement.  All employees should be made aware of the process.
  • Are there any “essential” personnel who need to come to work, even when the rest of the business is closed?  Certain employers, such as hospitals or security companies, may be required to have around the clock staffing – no matter what.  Employers should indicate which staff is essential to the business’ operations and help provide transportation for the workers.  In the case of a closing in the middle of the day, who should stay behind until everyone else has left to lock up?
  • Will employees get paid?  Generally, employers cannot deduct from an exempt employee’s salary in the event the office is closed due to inclement weather but will you pay your nonexempt employees for the hours they would have worked?  Will you require them to use a vacation day?  Will you give them the day off unpaid? Will you allow them to make up the time later in the week?  Maybe your company could offer two paid inclement weather days per year to all employees.
  • Will employees be allowed to work from home?  Today, many employees are able to receive their emails and voicemails from home.  Consider whether your company could function with your employees working from home.  This is a great option for those employers who are worried about the loss of productivity.
  • Will you penalize employees for not coming to work?  Some companies have attendance policies which work on a point system, and employees may be worried they will get penalized for not coming to work in bad weather.  You should communicate how weather closings will affect an employee’s attendance record.  
  • What if the schools are closed?  If schools are closed in the middle of the day, or late in the morning, employees may not be able to make alternative childcare arrangements.  Employers should have policies to deal with this.  Will those employees be allowed to work from home?  Will they have to make up their hours?  Will you allow them to bring their children into the office with them?

When considering your inclement weather policies, be sure to remain consistent with the policies and practices laid out in your company’s handbook.  Every employer’s needs are different and your decision may well depend on your business’s demands.  We hope that everyone stays safe and warm during these winter months.

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About the Authors

Robert G. Brody is the founding member of Brody and Associates, LLC. He has been quoted and published in national publications and appears as a guest T.V. commentator on contemporary Labor and Employment issues. Learn More