No matter where your company is located, there’s always a risk of inclement weather. In the north, that can be blizzards. In California, there are earthquakes. In the Midwest, tornadoes can cause a lot of damage. Hurricanes are a seasonal bane in Florida. Bad weather is impossible to avoid, but it can be prepared for.
So what can a company do to make sure they’re prepared for any kind of weather?
Develop an Inclement Weather Policy
It’s important to have a company policy in place beforehand so that everyone knows what to do and what is required should there be a weather event in your area. The policy should ensure that your company is compliant with any local laws regarding weather and also with OSHA and NIOSH guidelines for workplace safety.
Having a plan prepared ahead of time can help ensure that your company can still run smoothly during bad weather. The company is required to provide safe working conditions for employees, and that includes during bad weather.
Determine What Inclement Weather Means for Your Company
Different kinds of weather affect business in different ways. Strong winds are far more dangerous to companies that do outdoor construction work but wouldn’t necessarily affect people working in an office. What kind of weather would make coming in to work unsafe for your staff? Consider both weather that would affect working conditions and weather that would affect commutes.
You should consult OSHA guidelines when you’re developing your weather policy. OSHA has regulations about what kind of weather is considered unsafe, including guidelines about temperatures.
Travel Warnings and State-of-Emergency Declarations
The government can issue travel warnings or declare a state of emergency in your area for inclement weather. It’s a good idea to pay attention to these warnings. If the experts are declaring it too dangerous for people to be out on the roads, your policy should match.
Know How You’ll Communicate
If your business is going to close due to weather, you’ll need to notify your employees so they don’t come into work. You can use your HRIS to send mass communications out to everyone. You should also ensure that your staff is able to get in touch with their bosses if they have any questions or concerns. Keeping the lines of communication open is essential so that everyone knows what’s going on.
Decide Who Is Essential Personnel
Some businesses offer essential goods or services that require them to remain open, even in inclement weather. These companies should determine ahead of time which of their staff members are essential to the running of the business and which aren’t. Only those employees who are absolutely essential to keeping the business running would need to come in, while all other employees could stay at home.
Determine How Employees Are Paid
If inclement weather forces employees to stay home, how are they paid? Federal law requires companies to pay any exempt or salaried workers if the business is closed due to weather. But for hourly, non-exempt employees, it’s legal for them to not be paid for any time that they didn’t work.
It’s a common practice for companies to use an hourly employee’s PTO day to cover the inclement weather so they don’t miss out on pay. However, the weather isn’t your employees’ fault and they may not want to use up their PTO for it.
No matter what you decide, it’s important that your employees know ahead of time what will happen and how they will be paid. If PTO will be used to make up the difference in hours worked, your staff should know about it before it happens.
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