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Oh the Weather Outside is Frightful

Severe weather, including snow, ice and wind storms, are common during this time of the year. Weather emergencies can force employers to shut down early for the day, open late, or not all. Employers should adopt a severe weather policy that spells out the following:

  • Procedures for deciding when the employer will close due to weather conditions;
  • How employees will be notified of the closing;
  • Roles and responsibilities during severe weather emergencies;
  • Procedures to designate essential staff who must report to work;
  • Pay and leave policies, and
  • Communications channels through which closings are announced to customers.

Pay and Leave Considerations

When an employer has to shut down its operations, employers can choose to:

  • Require non-exempt employees to take leave without pay;
  • Grant employees “administrative leave” which is “extra” leave time not charged against an employee’s personal, vacation or other paid leave; or
  • Charge each employee’s accrued personal or vacation leave.

In deciding which approach to take, an employer must take into account federal wage and hour regulations, cost considerations, and employee’s perception of the “fairness” of the policy. Be cautious of relying on leave without pay. An employer can require employees who are non-exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act to take leave without pay during a partial-day or full-day shutdown related to weather or other emergency conditions. However, employers are usually restricted from using the same approach with exempt employees. These provisions generally require exempt employees to receive their full salary for any week in which they perform any work without regard to the number of days or hours worked.

For inquiries on adopting a severe weather policy, HR Works Virtual HR Helpline Clients may contact the Helpline at 585-381-8340 x 1 or by email at: HR Works can also assist organizations with developing a federal and state complaint employee handbook that would include a severe weather policy.

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HR Works, Inc., headquartered at 200 WillowBrook Office Park in Fairport (Rochester), New York, with an office in East Syracuse, is a human resource management outsourcing and consulting firm serving clients throughout the United States. HR Works provides scalable strategic human resource management and consulting services, including: affirmative action programs; benefits administration outsourcing; HRIS self-service technology; full-time, part-time and interim on-site HR managers; HR audits; legally reviewed employee handbooks and supervisor manuals; talent management and recruiting services; and training of managers and HR professionals.