Superstorm Sandy: Workplace Best Practices on Inclement Weather
It is best to be prepared for inclement weather. Your organization will want to establish guidelines ahead of time to assist the company to determine whether you will close or remain open during inclement weather. It is best to consider your culture when establishing these guidelines. You may have union guidelines on pay and communication timeframes, as well as current “inclement weather” policies and procedures to think about.
The most important aspect of this process is to communicate a plan and be consistent in how you carry it out. The communication should include:
- Phone number to call with message (include the time the message will be available) regarding whether the company is closed, opening late, open, open for certain employees.
- Television and radio stations, both AM and FM, that will be notified of the decision to close and will broadcast that information.
- Procedures for contacting the supervisor if the employee cannot get to work.
- If closed or state of emergency: What is your policy on paid/unpaid time?
- Work from home policy for those able to work from home.
- Critical functions/positions and plan for operations.
Consider these pay issues in your planning and be consistent in whichever plan you choose:
- You can mandate that employees use a paid day off. You can allow non-exempt employees to take the day unpaid. However, exempt employees MUST be paid (even if you mandate use of a paid day off ). If an exempt employee has no paid time left, YOU MUST STILL PAY THEM FOR THE FULL DAY.
- If closed – Either pay all employees or require all employees (exempt and non-exempt) to take a PTO/vacation/personal day.
- If remaining open – Express concern for safety and let employees make their own judgment call on their ability to get to work. Employees who work should be paid their normal rate. Employees who cannot make it to work may be required to use a PTO/vacation/personal day or take as an unpaid day (non-exempt). DO NOT count this absence against themfor your absentee policy.
- If there is a declared state of emergency and closing is out of the company’s control, you are not required to pay nonexempt employees. They may be permitted or required to use a PTO/vacation/personal day. Exempt employees must be paid, however, the company can require them to use a PTO/vacation/personal day.
- Designate the group that will be responsible for making the decision to close/remain open and determine what time the group will discuss and record the message. Test the message on the phone system to ensure it is functioning.
- If you will remain open, be sure managers and supervisors will be able to get to work and be available for your production. At least one person should be present at the facility who is authorized to make the call to close early in the event of worsening weather conditions, electrical outages, etc.
- Make sure your parking lot and sidewalks are adequately cleared to mitigate the chances of employee injuries.
For further information or assistance, contact your MEA representative.