Inclement Weather: What’s Your Policy?

At the risk of stating the obvious, our mountainous region is one where the winters are marked by snow accumulation and ice.  And, while fresh snowfall can be a beautiful thing, snowy and icy driving conditions are usually a bit less charming, especially for an employer whose employees aren’t able to get to work.

As an employer, how can you deal with employees who are impacted by some of the less-than-desirable aspects of winter?  One way is through the implementation of an inclement-weather policy.

Although there is no standard inclement-weather policy that will work for every employer, most typical inclement-weather policies have one central theme: employee safety.  With that in mind, in considering whether to adopt an inclement-weather policy, or in evaluating an existing inclement-weather policy, think about the following:

  • Modifying business hours when driving conditions are hazardous;
  • Establishing a call-in procedure, allowing employees to call in prior to their respective shifts in order to confirm whether business hours are being modified; and
  • Allowing employees to use sick or other forms of leave when driving conditions are hazardous.

Obviously, there are other important factors to consider when creating or evaluating an inclement-weather policy, such as the legal implications of your rules in the context of exempt versus non-exempt employees.  Nevertheless, as we frequently look outside at this time of year to a scene that closely resembles a violently-shaken snow globe, it’s probably fair to say that giving some thought to creating a new – or modifying an existing – inclement-weather policy is, at the very least, an idea to warm up to.

Matt Hansberry focuses his practice in the areas of employment litigation and ski-industry defense. Mr. Hansberry has defended companies and management in both federal court and state court cases. He has also defended employers before the West Virginia Human Rights Commission.
» See more articles by Matthew B. Hansberry
» Read the full biography of Matthew B. Hansberry at Steptoe & Johnson

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