As we move into fall, it’s time to give thought to how you are going to handle issues when the snow begins to fall (for most of us at least!). And for those of you lucky enough to live in mild climates, there are always hurricane’s, storms, floods, etc. that every business has to deal with unexpectedly. While you can have a formal policy for addressing issues of weather, we tend to need to consider, and deal with, each situation as it arises. There is typically not a one-size-fits-all for your employees or various organizations. What is important for all organizations is to discuss policy in advance with managers so that all are on the same page.
The law is clear – if an employee doesn’t work, you don’t have to pay them. However, the minute they take a phone call from home or their cell phone, answer an email or work on a project, they are working. This can be especially complex if you have a non-exempt workforce that is able to work remotely. A well written resources can be found on the site – about.com. Their article helps management teams think through both the legal and social obligations they have to employees.
Managers should know what authority they have to advise employees, and all employees should know who and how to contact the organization in the event of hazardous weather. Forbes had a great article you may want to review on this topic. The most important take away is to be both flexible and fair to all employees. You can find yourself in deep water if you allow one group to work from home when others that may not have Internet or computer access from home have to find a way to work.
We need our employees at work – only in the worst of circumstances will our clients understand why we don’t have our team in place. Most employees will often do their best to get to work, arriving a few hours late – while others choose to stay home because it’s just too hard to make the trip. Is there a way in your organization to reward those that at least make the effort to get to the office? Most managers understand that getting to work can be difficult in inclement weather, and dangerous for some employees given their travel requirements between home and the office. While we don’t want to put our employees in harms way, we still need to run our business and meet the demands of customers.
Consider a policy that pays employees who arrive within 90 minutes of their start time a full day pay to reward the behavior you want. You can also consider a policy that aligns with your community public transportation or school system as an acceptable reason for calling off work. However, this still has to consider the issue of pay. An excellent resource on legal topics – The HR Specialist — has a flow chart that I find helpful in sparking productive conversations with management teams.
In the end there may not be a clear right or wrong path. What is clear is that you begin the conversation now so that when the time comes to make management decision your team is aligned with the background they need to work with employees in a way that fits your culture and is compliant with law.
Source: Lori Kleiman
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