CR Fletcher

2010 Greater Syracuse Business of the Year
C.R. Fletcher Associates, Inc.
Certified NYS Women-Owned Business Enterprise (MWBE)

Employees Commute & Severe Weather

By : Marielle Lanoir, PHR

Most individuals with a 315 area code are well accustom to the varying degrees of “winter” that we as “Central New Yorkers” experience from November-March.  Anything less than 5 inches is merely a normal day to most in the Syracuse area.

As an employer, what do you do when the area your business is located in experiences severe weather?  Just this week, a storm front will be moving through the area, dropping 12-15 inches of snow in some towns over the next 24 hours.  Coupled with subzero temperatures, this may cause difficulty for some of your employees commutes.

Do you not address the weather and leave it to your employees discretion as to if they are able to make it to work on time, or at all?  Is it expected that the employees still arrive promptly at “clock-in” time?  If they are snowed in and unable to make it to work, do you allow them to utilize a last minute vacation day?

ADP, one of the United States largest business solution organizations, recently published some tips that employers can use as guidelines when the weather may prevent their workforce from being as prompt as they may like.

1.) If your office remains open during a large snow storm, or other weather system, offer employees varying work options and arrangements.  Consider instituting a “work-from-home” arrangement, that can be utilized during severe weather.  This should be something that is explained in detail within the Employee Handbook.  Ensure that employees are educated on the protocol that must be followed, in the event that they need to utilize this option. Also, ensure that the policy follows FLSA guidelines.  If an individual is non-exempt, make sure that they have a company approved method of record keeping that they can utilize to track any hours spent working.  This could be in the form of a paper timecard, or online hour tracking system.  Make sure they still are able to check in with their Supervisor or Manager throughout the day.

2.) Should your office not be able to set up a “work-from-home” solution, consider allowing employees to utilize their paid time off (PTO), as opposed to docking them for missed time.  However, please keep in mind this option may be more complicated than it seems, due to non-exempt vs exempt classifications.  Make sure that you are following proper wage and hour laws, per your state’s labor law.

3.) Allow individuals to make up any hours missed due to inclement weather later in the work week.  Lets say an individual is going to be 1 hour late in the morning, or asks to leave 2 hours early in the afternoon due to weather.  It may be easiest to simply allow the individual to make up the time over the course of the next few days, rather than go through the trouble of utilizing PTO or manipulating their normal payroll for the week.

The most important thing to keep in mind, whatever policy your organization may have in place, is the importance of your employees safety.  If the workday has started, and the weather progressively becomes worse throughout the day and is scheduled to be at its worst around 5 pm, when your employees will be leaving your organization, consider allowing them to leave an hour early, ensuring that they are home before the travel conditions worsen.  Your employees are one of your greatest assets.  Help keep them safe through these cold wintery months!

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