If your business operates in a location that is at least occasionally subject to severe weather conditions, it’s a good idea to have a clear and detailed policy on the subject. The major topics you’ll want to address include:
- When shouldn’t employees attempt to come to the office?
- Will employees be expected to work from home if the office is closed – or which employees will be expected to do so? For example, you may have a policy stating that employees will work from home during inclement weather, in the event that local schools are closed, or, that a set individual will call or email all employees to announce office closure by a set time the evening before. This avoids confusion, uncertainty, and instances of employees mistakenly braving dangerous weather to arrive at a closed office.
- What protocol should be taken if the office is open, but an employee is unable to come in, due to hazardous weather? Who should they call, by what time, and will they be able and expected to work from home?
- If employees cannot work from home, how will the time off be paid (if at all)? As the employer, you can decide whether employees will have the option of taking unpaid time off or if you will deplete their vacation or paid time off (PTO) bank. However, be sure not to take a deduction from exempt employee wages if PTO is unavailable, and don’t require employees to use their protected sick leave if you’re in a state that requires that benefit.
- What advance preparation is needed? If severe weather is suspected, should employees take certain items or documents home with them the night before and, if so, which? Employees may also appreciate discussions in advance – especially those that live a good distance away, have children, etc.
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