Prepare your business for the worst with an inclement weather policy. We collected important tips and a sample policy.
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When the sky turns gray, and the weather takes a turn for the worse, businesses can’t simply batten down the hatches and wait for the storm to pass.
With employee safety at stake and a sea of complexities revolving around operations and legal compliance, your business must have a robust inclement weather policy in place.
The question is – are you prepared?
What Is An Inclement Weather Policy?
An inclement weather policy is a set of guidelines developed by organizations to manage operations during severe weather conditions.
It outlines procedures for workplace closures, delays, remote work, and communication strategies to ensure the safety and well-being of employees and customers.
This policy is crucial for responding effectively to adverse weather and maintaining operational continuity.
Events that could be included in an inclement weather policy are:
- Snow and Ice Storms
- Hurricanes and Tropical Storms
- Extreme Cold or Heat
- Thunderstorms and Lightning
- Other Natural Disasters
Additionally, an inclement weather policy can be adapted to address other emergency events, which may include:
- Air Quality Issues
- Public Transport Disruptions
- Health-related outbreaks
- Threats to public safety
- Power Outages
🧠 Did You Know?
Having a comprehensive inclement weather policy can reduce the risk of legal disputes by up to 40%? Clear guidelines help avoid confusion and ensure compliance with labor laws.
Why Your Business Needs An Inclement Weather Policy
Weather, as unpredictable as it is, can wield a significant impact on businesses.
A clear policy not only prepares your business for the worst, but also shows your employees that you value their safety when the going gets tough.
Having an inclement weather policy in place along with clear communication protocols will help you to quickly get important information to employees and to maintaining business continuity.
How To Create An Inclement Weather Policy
Your inclement weather policies must define what adverse and severe weather is and at what point the weather turns bad enough to impact your business operations and employee safety.
Your policy needs to clearly explain what to do when bad weather hits. It should include safety rules for employees, how to communicate during emergencies, and how employees will be paid.
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If this is your first time creating a workplace policy, we put together an in-depth guide on how to create policy and procedure manuals.
Define When Your Business Will Close
Planning ahead for when bad weather strikes includes defining what is considered inclement weather so your managers and workers know when to enforce such policies and when your business closes.
Many businesses align their operational status with that of local governmental offices. Your local government often has access to information you might not have, such as airport weather data, live radar maps, and emergency management offices.
In any case, your policy needs to be clear and leave no room for interpretation.
💡 Pro Tip:
Use real-time data like weather forecasts and local government advisories to inform your closure decisions.
Define When Your Business Allows a Late Start
If the weather events aren’t too bad, you can decide to enact a more flexible leave policy and allow your employees to start their day late or depart early.
In certain situations, it’s wise to adopt a liberal leave policy. This approach means you keep the business open but understand that sometimes the weather can throw a curveball.
You will ask that everyone makes a reasonable effort to arrive on time. However, if an employee runs late due to weather-related issues, you won’t hold it against you.
And if it’s just too risky to make the commute, put your employees’ safety first. Your policy should instruct them to stay home but let their manager know as soon as possible.
Establish Employee Safety Protocols
As we already mentioned, your first priority during inclement weather conditions should be the safety of your staff.
A comprehensive disaster recovery plan, up-to-date emergency contact information, and employee training are vital in ensuring the safety of all hands on deck.
Your inclement weather policy should include provisions for the following situations:
- Utility Disruptions at Work: How the company will handle situations when power, water, or communications services are disrupted at the workplace due to weather.
- Remote Workers Losing Connectivity: Steps for remote employees to follow if they lose power or internet due to bad weather where they are working.
- Inhospitable Outdoor Conditions with Safe Indoor Work Available: Procedures for when outdoor conditions are unsafe, but indoor work at your facility is still viable.
- Employees with Children Affected by School Closures: Guidelines for employees who cannot come to work because of weather-related class cancellations or the cancellation of school buses.
- Employees Stranded After Work: What to do if an employee cannot return home after their shift due to dangerous conditions, including arrangements for local accommodation.
- Evacuation Orders Impacting Business and Employees: Actions to take if local authorities issue an evacuation order affecting your business location or where your employees reside.
Write Clear Pay Policies
Just as any responsible employer ensures all employees are compensated for their work, the same applies during inclement weather.
Particularly non-exempt employees, should expect to receive their pay for their services during these conditions.
This includes payment for hours worked up to a predetermined number of days, abiding by relevant state laws, and providing paid time in the form of accrued compensatory time as needed.
Offering flexibility in the time-off policy can help employees effectively manage their leave during these events.
Here are key points to consider:
- Full-Day Closures: Decide and clearly communicate how employees will be compensated on days when the business is completely shut down due to severe weather. Typically, companies choose to pay their regular full-time employees for these missed hours.
- Delayed Openings or Early Closures: In scenarios where the business opens late or closes early, outline how this impacts employee pay. Whether it’s prorated pay for the actual hours worked or a full day’s compensation depends on your company’s policy and applicable state labor laws.
- Fair Compensation: For hourly or non-exempt employees, establish a policy that is both fair and compliant with labor laws. This might include paying for scheduled hours even if the workplace is closed.
- Overtime Considerations: Address how overtime will be handled during weather-related disruptions, especially if employees end up working additional hours before or after a weather event.
- Voluntary Absence: If the business remains open, but employees choose not to come in due to weather conditions, consider whether they should use PTO for this time.
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Not sure about the difference between vacation time and PTO? This guide explains it all.
- Mandatory Closures: In the case of mandatory closures, decide whether employees are required to use their PTO or if the company will provide paid leave that doesn’t impact their PTO balance.
- Adherence to Labor Laws: Ensure that your policy is in line with state and federal labor laws, particularly regarding the payment of hourly and non-exempt employees.
- Uniform Application: Apply the policy consistently to all employees to maintain fairness and avoid potential legal issues.
Remember that the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires that employees be paid their salary if they complete any work during the week.
This applies across all industries and roles, even those with a salary or compensation package.
However, when they are unable to work due to hazardous conditions, the employer can deduct pay or require the employee to utilize accrued PTO or vacation.
💡 Pro Tip:
Clearly define and communicate pay policies for weather-related disruptions. A dedicated employee time-tracking app can help manage and record work hours accurately during such events.
Make the Inclement Weather Policy Easily Accessible
Making your inclement weather policy easily accessible is vital for ensuring that all employees are aware of and understand the procedures during severe weather conditions.
The key is to utilize tools and platforms that facilitate easy access and comprehension.
A practical approach is to use an employee management platform, like Connecteam, to store and disseminate your policy.
By having the policy available on a digital employee knowledge base, your employees can access it anytime, anywhere, whether they are in the office, working remotely, or on the go.
This accessibility is particularly important in fast-changing situations where employees need to review your policy outside of traditional working hours or locations.
Train Your Supervisors and Managers
You don’t want to get stuck in bad weather with managers or supervisors who don’t know what to do in an emergency.
Make sure you provide your supervisors and managers with the training to effectively manage inclement weather situations.
💡 Pro Tip:
We compared the best employee training software to help you choose the best to train your managers.
They should be provided with comprehensive training on the policy, including:
- Communication techniques
- Adherence to laws and regulations
- How to support employees during dangerous weather conditions
Regular reviews ensure that they properly understand the relevant safety and communication procedures and know what to do.
Sample Inclement Weather Policy
[Your Company Name] Inclement Weather Policy
This policy aims to provide clear guidelines for [Your Company Name]’s operations during inclement weather conditions. It ensures the safety of our employees while maintaining essential business functions.
This policy applies to all employees of [Your Company Name].
- Decision Criteria for Business Closure
- Alignment with Local Government: [Your Company Name] will base its closure decisions on the operational status of local governmental offices. If these offices close due to inclement weather, [Your Company Name] will also close.
- Independent Decision-Making: In cases where local government offices remain open, [Your Company Name] may still decide to close based on specific weather conditions and safety considerations.
- Late Start and Liberal Leave Policy
- Flexible Start Times: In certain weather conditions, [Your Company Name] may opt for a delayed opening rather than a full closure. Employees will be notified of the adjusted start times as soon as possible.
- Liberal Leave: If employees face hazardous commuting conditions, they may arrive late without penalty. Employees unable to attend work must notify their immediate supervisor.
- Employee Compensation During Weather-Related Closures
- Full Closure: Employees will receive their regular pay for days when [Your Company Name] is closed due to inclement weather.
- Voluntary Absence: If [Your Company Name] remains open and an employee chooses not to attend work, they may use a vacation day for this absence.
- Notification System
- Methods of Communication: Employees will be notified of closures or delays through a combination of methods, including but not limited to email, text messages, [Your Company Name]’s website, and local media outlets.
- Employee Responsibility: Employees are responsible for checking one or more of these communication channels for updates on operational status.
- Access to Policy
- Distribution: This policy will be available in the employee handbook, on the company intranet, and in hard copy by request from Human Resources.
- Additional Guidelines
- Business Closure and Partial Closure: Specific procedures for full or partial-day closures will be communicated in each incident, including expectations for employees who are able to work remotely.
- Critical and Non-Critical Roles: Roles deemed critical for business continuity during emergencies will be identified, and employees in these roles may be expected to work remotely.
- Extended Leave: Situations requiring extended leave due to weather-related circumstances will be handled on a case-by-case basis.
Review and Updates
This policy will be reviewed annually and updated as necessary to reflect changes in local weather patterns and business operations.
All employees are required to acknowledge that they have read, understood, and agreed to abide by this policy.
Note: This sample policy is a template and should be adapted to fit the specific needs and circumstances of your organization.
Communicate Your Inclement Weather Policy with Connecteam
When you’re dealing with rough weather at work, you need to get the word out fast and clear. That’s where Connecteam shines.
It’s not just a communication tool; it’s like the Swiss Army knife for your business needs.
Let’s dive into what makes Connecteam the perfect partner for those unpredictable weather days:
Chat That’s Lightning Fast:
Ever played the telephone game? Well, with Connecteam, there’s none of that. When the weather goes south, so does waiting time. Send a quick update, and get everyone on the same page in seconds. No confusion, just clarity.
All-in-One Business Buddy:
Think of Connecteam as your behind-the-scenes hero. It’s not just about chatting. Need to shuffle around shifts because of a snowstorm? Done. Worried about tracking time during a weather emergency? Covered. It’s like having your own command center for all the tricky bits of managing a team.
Everything you need is up in the cloud. No, not the rainy ones – the techy, always-there-when-you-need-it cloud. Need to send out a new weather policy doc? It’s just a link away. Your team can snag it from the smart employee knowledge base; no raincoat needed.
Newsfeed, but Make It Work-Friendly:
Got something everyone needs to know about the upcoming weather? Post it on Connecteam’s Newsfeed. It’s like your favorite social media but for work stuff. Tailor it to who needs to see what, and keep everyone on the same sunny (or snowy) page.
Always Ready Emergency Contacts
When something goes wrong, finding that emergency contact list is nothing but a hassle. Connecteam’s auto-updated employee directory keeps everyone’s information just a tap away.
So, when the weather decides to throw a curveball, Connecteam is there to catch it and make sure your team stays connected, come rain or shine! 🌦️📲
With a robust inclement weather policy in place, businesses can ensure the safety of their employees, maintain business operations, and adhere to legal requirements.
Remember, smooth seas never made a skilled sailor – so are you ready to weather the storm?
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I create an inclement weather policy?
To create an inclement weather policy, decide when your business will close and allow for a late start, establish how you will pay employees, set up a system to notify all team members and make the policy easily accessible.
What is inclement conditions?
Inclement weather is any severe or harsh weather condition that makes it unsafe or impractical to travel, commute, or work outdoors.
What is the legal definition of inclement weather?
Inclement weather is legally defined as any severe or harsh weather condition that makes traveling, commuting, or working outdoors unsafe or impractical.
What is the significance of having an inclement weather policy for businesses?
Having an inclement weather policy is essential for businesses, as it ensures employee safety, eliminates confusion regarding payroll and benefits during adverse weather conditions, and recognizes the impact of weather on operations.