Snow has officially fallen in the Boston area, which can only mean the winter weather is rapidly approaching. This serves as a good reminder to communicate your organization’s expectations of conducting business during times of inclement weather. Here in the northeast all it takes is the meteorologist’s prediction of a little snow or ice covering to get the office talking about early closure and/or delayed openings. Not to be insensitive – we get it – inclement weather can certainly cause hazardous conditions that can lead to transportation issues. But what is a business to do?
Step 1: Plan
The first step is to have a plan. There is no right or wrong approach. Each business has unique operational functions to meet the demands of their business. Develop a plan that best balances meeting the needs of your customers while not jeopardizing the safety of your most valued resource, your employees.
There are three scenarios that your plan will need to address; 1) closing the business, 2) closing the business with the exception of mission-critical activities (i.e., minimally staffed), and 3) remain open with as normal a business day as possible.
- Closing the business: Define the times when your business will close. A conservative approach is to match your organization’s actions to those of the state. For example, if the state government offices are closed then close your business. Another common approach is to close when the state calls a ‘State of Emergency’.
- Closing the business except for mission-critical: Identify the mission-critical activities and the corresponding employees with those responsibilities. In this scenario the business is otherwise closed with the exception of these activities. Keep in mind that a best practice is to provide additional compensation for these individuals who are required to be on-site.
- Remain open: When the office remains open during a time of inclement weather then the plan should suggest that Employees make a reasonable effort to get to work when they can safely travel. However, if the employee is unsure about the safety of the commute then provide them the option to use accrued paid time off.
Step 2: Communicate
The next step is to communicate your plan. Preferably in a documented policy that is distributed to your employees. The policy should include the following elements;
- When the business would consider closing
- How a closing, or reduced hours, is communicated
- Exempt pay during an office closing, or reduced hours
- Non-Exempt pay during an office closing, or reduced hours
- Acceptable working from home arrangements (if applicable)
While documenting this policy is important it is even more critical to make sure all employees have received the information and understand the business scenarios. Also, you’ll want to re-circulate the plan during certain times of year when the likelihood of inclement weather is greatest. After all, who is worried about the polar vortex in August?
If you have questions or would like to learn more about implementing an inclement weather policy, please reach out to Genesis HR Solutions at AskUs@genesishrsolutions.com or 800-367-8367.
Genesis HR Solutions is the premier PEO provider for Massachusetts based businesses.