Winter is coming.
And with it, inclement weather. Most employers have an Inclement Weather Policy in place for when the elements make traveling conditions unsafe. Poorly constructed policies could sour the relationship between employer and employee: If an employee is called in when the conditions are bad, they could harbor resentment for their employer. Likewise, if an employee is taking advantage of a weak policy with the threat of a few flurries, it could easily upset an employer.
While there is no way for a Policy to cover every possible emergency weather situation, here are some suggestions on how to streamline your Inclement Weather Policies in order to keep your employees well-informed and prepared in the event of unsafe weather.
First off, formulate a plan. Revamp your Employee Handbook’s Inclement Weather Policy (if you have one). No business can afford to be ambiguous when it comes to how your business operates under poor weather scenarios. Depending upon your region, think through the types of weather scenarios, document clear expectations in your Handbook, and communicate those expectations to your employees as they arise. Your Policy should also plainly state who is responsible for announcing any changes to normal business hours or possible closures.
Secondly, address the question of employee pay. Whether your office will have partial-day closure, or consecutive closure days, communicate to your employees how their pay will be affected. Follow your state’s laws regarding pay during closures, and outline your procedure as clearly as possible in your Handbook for both exempt and non-exempt employees.
Thirdly, ensure that there are reliable means of communication during inclement weather for informing employees if they should return to work or stay home. Some organizations set up phone trees, email, or even use social media to keep their employees up-to-date. Also, just because your business isn’t physically open doesn’t mean it is shut down. You may consider training your staff to use Skype and Google Docs (the Cloud) to ensure your business is still being productive while the weather rages.
Each company culture is different, and thus each Inclement Weather Policy will be different depending upon your organization’s structure and business needs. When in doubt, be as specific as possible in your Policy to avoid any miscommunication, unnecessary risk, or false expectations from both management and employees in the event of inclement weather.