Winter is a tough time for businesses in many parts of the country. Extreme weather causes shutdowns, customers stay home and employees can’t always get to work—all of which contributes to losses in productivity, revenue and profits.
Should Employees Be Penalized For Staying Home in the Snow?
What should employers do when employees can’t get to work? Should they be lenient, knowing that safety comes first? Or should they require employees to work, no matter what the weather is doing? And what about employees with kids, who have to stay home when schools are out for bad weather?
Creating and implementing an extreme weather policy makes things easier for everyone. Employees know exactly what they should do, and you don’t have to come up with solutions while the snow is still piling up.
5 Extreme Weather Tips for Employers:
- Realize that employers must assume some level of care for employees. Forcing them to come to work in dangerous conditions could subject your company to liability if someone is injured or causes injury to others. Besides, do you want to be the type of employer that makes an employee feel they have no alternative other than traveling to work or risking termination?
- Be the leader your staff wants you to be. They will likely be looking to you for direction, so keep an eye on the weather, and communicate. Keep your cell phone on and be available to employees with questions.
- Make things flexible. If an employee needs extra time to get to work safely, or would prefer to work at home and stay off the roads, try to accommodate their needs. If snow is piling up during the work day, allow employees extra time to get home before dark, when possible. Add a provision in your policy for employees who can work at home to do so. Productivity could suffer, but it’s better than getting none at all.
- Be consistent. It’s not easy to make different accommodations for different employees; to allow some, but not others, to work from home; and to decide who gets paid and who does not. Try to be fair and consistent in your policies to avoid any legal battles with employees.
- If you pay employees who aren’t able to get to work, it’s reasonable to ask them to make up the time. Otherwise, you can offer that they take vacation time or unpaid leave and not worry about making up the hours they miss.
Even when snow and ice lead to driving problems, it is up to your employees to get to work or communicate their difficulty in doing so. But everyone appreciates a boss who tries to help and makes reasonable accommodations.