Inclement Weather Policy Should Factor In Safety, Pay

An inclement weather policy has two dimensions: The first and most important is employee safety; the second is pay.

“Employers should give serious thought to allowing employees to stay home on days when there is a significantly elevated risk of a traffic accident, as no employer wants to see an injury or fatality occur because an employee felt obligated to come to work even though the roads were not safe,” noted Paul DeCamp, an attorney with Epstein, Becker & Green in Washington, D.C., and former administrator of the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division.

Certain employees, such as emergency responders or hospital staff, may be designated as essential for purposes of attendance, according to Steven Suflas, an attorney with Ballard Spahr in Cherry Hill, N.J., and Denver, and Anu Thomas, an attorney with Ballard Spahr in Philadelphia.

A related consideration is whether to make attendance optional for some or all employees, as well as when to discipline an employee who fails to report to work after being told to come in, DeCamp said.

“It is important for an employer to use common sense in these circumstances, based on a realistic assessment of the hazards an employee would have faced in getting to or from work,” he observed. “It is not usually worthwhile in the long run to come down hard on an employee for refusing to drive on icy roads, or during heavy snowfall with limited visibility and reports of numerous traffic accidents, or when there are severe service disruptions on public transportation.”  (Read More)

Allen Smith, JD

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