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February 16, 2023

Winter weather can affect your business

Winter weather is unpredictable and can have a significant impact on your business. While maintaining business operations is always at the forefront of your mind, it is important to consider employee safety as well. You should have policies and procedures in place before bad weather hits so your company and employees are as prepared as possible.

Driving on Company Time

A major concern regarding winter weather is employees who drive a company car or vehicle as part of their workday. All vehicles should be given a safety check by a mechanic before the bad weather hits, and they should also be equipped with emergency materials, such as a snow scraper, blanket, first aid kit, and flashlight. In addition, employees should be instructed to dress properly for the weather, including a hat, scarf, and gloves, or have extra clothing on hand in case of a breakdown or accident.

To protect your company against liability, any employees who may drive in bad weather on company time should be trained in safe, cautious driving techniques and what to do in case of an accident. Also, consider employees who drive as part of their commute—it may be wise to educate them on cautious winter driving techniques to ensure their safety while driving to and from work.

Navigating Employee Pay

Pay issues can arise when weather forces your business to close for any length of time or prevents employees from making it to work even if your business remains open.

For non-exempt (typically hourly) employees, you are only required to pay them for the hours they work. Thus, if your business opens late, closes early, or closes for an entire day, you are not required to pay them for any time missed.

If an exempt (typically salaried) employee works any part of the day, you must pay them for a full day. If your business remains open, but an exempt employee cannot come in due to weather conditions, this is considered a personal reason, and you do not need to pay them.

One option to ease the loss of a business day or any missed productivity is to ask exempt employees to work from home. You may consider offering a telecommuting option during inclement winter weather, even if your business remains open, so employees can avoid the dangers of driving in the extreme cold or snow.

Be Prepared

Employees should be informed of your company policies related to inclement weather—safety, attendance, and pay-related. You should have an established communication method to inform your employees of a business closing or delay. When bad weather is coming, address all your policies again, remind employees of communication channels to address attendance, and plan for the worst potential outcome to ensure your company is prepared.

For more risk management guidance, contact us today.

This article is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel for legal advice. © 2023 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.

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