Blizzard? Tornado? It’s Time to Update Your Inclement Weather Policy
January 05, 2018 by Martina Markovska
Blizzards, tornadoes and torrential rainfall can be merciless when it comes to business operations. They entail a great deal of safety, logistical, and operational concerns for businesses and commuting employees. Overall, they can be quite the headache for companies. To avoid havoc during bad weather, you should document and plan your inclement weather policy.
If you already have an inclement weather policy and procedure in place, maybe it’s finally time to bring it up to standard. Update your inclement weather policy and procedures to ensure employees are safe and business processes are taken care of during severe weather. Here’s how to plan, revise, and update your company’s inclement weather policy.
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Make a Detailed Plan
Did you know that 48% of small business owners said they have no business continuity plan in place? This is an alarming number. By having a detailed inclement weather policy included in your employee handbook you are protecting your business from human, financial, and property loss.
However, don’t dive head first into the deep end. Sit down with your HR team and discuss your inclement weather policy and procedures in detail. What will your inclement weather policy include, when will it take effect, does it focus on employee safety, how will employees be compensated during bad weather? These are just some questions that should be answered in your employee handbook.
Determine Company Closure Conditions
Sometimes it’s necessary to stop business operations on site for the safety of employees. Company closure is generally preceded by these occurrences:
- Extreme snowfall/rainfall – This will often immobilize employees commuting to and from work so company closure is advisable.
- No electricity – Inclement weather often causes blackouts and since most business operations rely on electrical power, company closure is required.
- Inaccessible roads – If there is no available transport to your office or roads are inaccessible, then company closure is appropriate.
- Government warning – When a bad weather emergency is declared by government officials, business operation on site should cease until further notice.
Inform Employees About Company Closure
Once company closure is final, decide which notification methods will be used to notify employees. With a range of technology available, you can inform employees about company closure via a message on the company website, email, text message or phone. The HR department should ensure they have contact information from everyone in the company.
Also, you can inform your customers, clients or partners about the closure through your company social media pages.
In cases where employees cannot be reached and there is no formal notification, employees should rely on their common sense to assess the extreme weather conditions and decide whether or not it’s safe to come to work.
Discuss Telecommuting During Inclement Weather
Telecommuting is one way to keep business operations running when traveling to work is not an option. If you expect employees to continue business operations from home, then you should specifically state this in your inclement weather policy.
Make sure employees document the number of hours they are working from home so they are compensated accordingly. Having a telecommuting policy in place is particularly practical for businesses that work with out-of-state or international clients.
Nevertheless, in some cases individuals may be more affected by extreme weather and are unable to telecommute and the only option is to wait out the storm.
Define Pay for Employees
Employees will want to know how their pay will be affected during extreme weather. Will they be paid normal salaries during company closure? Will they be paid overtime? Will they continue to receive health benefits? Information about pay and benefits should be included and defined in your inclement weather policy. Consult with your HR department about pay rules for exempt and nonexempt workers.
Other Factors to Include in Your Inclement Weather Policy:
● Employee benefits – Company closure due to bad weather usually doesn’t affect employee benefits such as health insurance. Nevertheless, it’s important to outline exactly which employee benefits will be covered in your inclement weather policy.
● Part-day closure – When inclement weather strikes during office hours and safety at work becomes a serious concern, companies may need to cut office hours short. To avoid confusion explain the rights and responsibilities of the employee during part-day closure in your inclement weather policy and employee handbook.
● Individual circumstances – Bad weather can affect individual employees’ ability to come to work. Blizzards, tornadoes, heavy snow, and rainfall can often make roads inaccessible and most importantly endanger the safety of those willing to leave their home. In such cases, employees should contact their manager to discuss their situation. Clarify individual cases in your inclement weather policy to inform employees about the procedures they need to follow.
● Extending employee leave – Employees may not be able to return to work when the company closure ends. In order for the employee to extend their leave, they usually need to apply for an unpaid leave of absence.
● Policy abuse – Protect yourself from employees using bad weather as a frequent excuse to miss work by listing disciplinary actions that will be taken against employee. Abuse of your inclement weather policy warrants verbal and written warning, as well as termination of employment.
Clarify Your Absence Policy
Employees often don’t know whether absences caused by company closure are deducted from their vacation and sick balances. For example, if the employee is able to telecommute during company closure but chooses not to, will this count as taking a day off? Hourly employees will also be affected by this dilemma. Will their shift be paid or will it be treated as if they missed a shift?
Clear up any doubts about absences by addressing these and other absence issues in your inclement weather policy and employee handbook.
Organizations face various scenarios during bad weather that can affect business operations, such as low productivity, safety concerns and even bad weather policy abuse. Therefore, your inclement weather policy and procedures should reflect what’s best for your employees’ safety as well as what’s most suitable for your business processes.
Update your inclement weather policy with the help of experienced HR professionals to keep business operations running smoothly.
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