Creating a Workplace Winter Weather Policy

Your workplace needs policies to ensure that managers and staff behave consistently as they go about their workday. Having a workplace winter weather policy, known as an inclement weather policy, is important because it ensures that even when weather and other external factors impact employees and business operations, everyone who works at your office will know what to do.

Creating a Workplace Winter Weather Policy

If your business doesn't have a workplace winter weather policy or inclement weather policy, now is the time to make one. Establishing winter safety procedures in the office can reduce confusion and keep everyone on the same page. Employee safety during winter is important, so don't delay in creating this kind of policy for your organization.

What Is a Winter Weather Policy? Why Is It Important?

A winter weather policy is a policy that outlines what managers and staff will do in the event that weather or external conditions impact an employee's ability to do their job. A good policy is important because it establishes parameters under which your business will close, and it helps with managing business operations in winter.

This type of policy brings a level of predictability for employees who need to know that your business recognizes when it's too difficult or dangerous to come to work. Winter weather policies can also establish protocols for working from home and continuing operations, even if your employees can't reach your central office.

What Should Be Included In a Winter Weather Policy

Your winter weather policy should outline when your business will close and under what conditions it will start its day late. Winter weather HR guidelines also establish how employees will be paid and a means of communication during a time when weather and external conditions make communication difficult.

When Will Your Business Close?

Decide the conditions that need to be met in order for your business to close. For example, your business might say that if local schools close or if local government offices close, then your business will close as well.

If your business will make an independent decision about when to close and when to stay open, establish the time when this decision will be made. For example, you may tell employees, "If (your organization) has not closed by 5:30 AM, then the business will be open for the day."

Remember that some employees may have a long commute time and need to be informed early of your company's closure. Waiting too long to make a decision may mean that your employees will be on the road going to work by the time the information reaches them.

If your business has work-from-home staff, establish whether your work-from-home staff will be required to continue working from home, even if the central office is closed. Establish a procedure for making this happen.

When Will Your Business Open Late?

Sometimes, a late start is more appropriate than a full closure. Establish parameters under which your business will open late and when you can expect to make this decision.

Sometimes, businesses give employees a generous leave policy. On days when driving conditions are questionable but the business opens on time, businesses may also give employees some leeway to arrive late without penalties. 

This permits employees to prioritize safe driving and avoid accidents on the way to work. Under these circumstances, employees are usually required to speak with their manager if they will be late.

Establish a Pay Policy

If your business is closed or opens late due to weather conditions, you must determine how employees will be paid. Many businesses choose to pay their employees for the time they would have worked, up to a certain number of hours or days in the season.

Establish a Communication System

Who will contact your employees in the event that your business closes? Establish a system of communication with your employees, whether that's by email, phone, text, or all of the above. Managers and supervisors may be responsible for reaching their direct reports, so be sure that managers and supervisors have the personal contact information for their employees.

How to Effectively Enforce Your Winter Weather Policy

Once you have a Winter Weather policy in place, it's important to review it every year to ensure it remains current. Go over the policy with managers so your managers and supervisors are aware of their roles and responsibilities when inclement weather occurs. Finally, have managers review the policy with staff to ensure they too, understand their role and responsibilities when bad weather occurs.

Keep your policy in a location where all staff can reach it, either on a staff network drive or in a centralized location in your building. If you are reliant on paper copies, give paper copies to everyone who works at your business. When a new person is hired, give them this information at their new employee orientation.

Coordinate With Your Payroll and HR Provider

Prepare your business for winter challenges with Workforce PayHub’s expert HR services. Contact us for assistance in developing robust winter weather policies tailored to your organization’s needs.

Eric Jones
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