How to Handle Employee Snow Days and Other Bad Weather Woes

Learn how to create compliant bad weather policies, whether for snow days, hurricanes, or other weather-related challenges.

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When bad weather rolls in, precipitation, flooding, and lost power can turn into a real nightmare for companies and their employees. We’ve put together a guide to help unpack different bad weather policies, and plow through any other weather-related challenges.

How to Handle Bad Weather and the Workplace

The US Department of Labor has issued a number of opinion letters on the topic of bad weather. While opinion letters aren’t laws, courts are generally deferential to them. Bad weather policies come down to exempt vs. nonexempt employee classification.

Scenario #1: You close the business before employees get in because of the weather.

Nonexempt Employees: The FLSA states that if an hourly employee is forced to miss work because you closed your business, you don’t have to pay them for those hours.
Exempt Employees: If your business is closed for less than a week, you do have to pay your salaried, exempt employees. You can, however, require them to use vacation/PTO time to cover the days. Be sure to check employee contracts and bargaining agreements as they may place limitations on forced leave.

Scenario #2: You send employees home early because of the weather.

Nonexempt Employees: It varies on the state as to whether you need to pay your employee for the rest of the day, despite their leaving early. Some states, like New York and New Jersey, have “call-in pay” that requires companies pay a minimum level to hourly employees who get called in, but don’t work for their full shift.
Exempt Employees: Even if your employees only came in for an hour, you must pay salaried, exempt employees for the full day.

Scenario #3: Your business is open, but your employee can’t get in to work (e.g. car won’t start, child’s school is canceled, can’t shovel out of their driveway, torrential rains, etc.).

Nonexempt Employees: Since hourly employees are only paid for the hours worked, if they can’t make it into work, you don’t have to pay them.
Exempt Employees: If the employee is salaried and exempt, you can deduct a full day’s pay for their not showing up to work, or let them take a personal day. One way to solve all your snow stress is to allow employees to work from home. If it’s possible for employees to telecommute, then they can still be productive, and get paid.
When bad weather strikes, it can be very stressful, and isn’t the best time for employees to try and figure out the policy—be sure to educate your employees on the bad weather policy before it strikes.

How to Handle Other Bad Weather Woes

Rain and snow aren’t the only issues that can bury you. Here’s how you can stay on top of other bad weather- and season-related woes.

Flu Season

Get a handle on flu season by doing everything you can to keep it out of your office with vaccination clinics or telecommuting. Setting up a thorough and clear sick leave policy also ensures when the flu strikes, employees know their rights.

Bad Weather Hazards

If you’re not sure what you can do to make your office place as safe as possible, OSHA has you covered with a number of tips to help you prevent injuries, illness, and fatalities during bad weather.
Think about getting organized now, whether that means setting your snow day policy, or just getting your HR strategy in gear. An organized HR system can help you stay in front of an avalanche of HR headaches.

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