While the groundhog told us winter would be over by now, we have had some unexpected cold and snowy weather this week. Even though we are moving to warmer weather, it is still good to consider whether you should have an inclement weather policy. During winter months, those policies can help define how your business will approach bad weather or travel conditions and will assist your employees in planning work time. While such a policy can remove some discretion from those managing the office, the clarity provided is often appreciated. There are several considerations for these policies:
- When will the office be closed? Is it tied to a local school decision, certain weather conditions, or other bases?
- Who will communicate to the employees and how will it be done? Will and electronic message or call go out? Will there be a recorded message at a phone number? Will you have a contact chain?
- Who will make the call about closing the business? Do you limit that discretion?
- What does the policy say about those who elect not to come to work even if the office is open?
- What will you do about compensation?
- Do you have multiple locations? If so, will the decision be different in the different locations?
- What consideration do you make for parking lots, sidewalks, and other conditions outside of street conditions?
- Do your employees travel as a part of their duties?
- Will there be any customers or clients that need to be served?
- How have these issues been handled historically?
As with most policies, cookie cutter language does not fit every business. Looking at your particular situation, your location, your workforce, and your type of business will all inform how you structure the policy.
How do you treat payment for employees who are “On the Road Again”?
A basic tenant of employment law provides that an employee is responsible for getting to work, and the employer is not obligated to pay for this commute time to work (unless the employee works during the travel). That commute or home-to-work travel is not pay time under the FLSA pursuant to the Portal-to-Portal Act. However, there are times that the employer should pay the employee for travel time. The question is whether the travel is for the organization’s benefit (trips out of town, to clients, etc.) or for the employee’s benefit (getting to the workplace). Even if the employee works at different job sites, travel to the site is not compensable, unless the employee must report to a central location and then is sent to a remote job site.
Travel that is part of the regular daily duties of the employee, such as visits to customers, must be counted as work time. For day trips, any travel to the ultimate location is compensable. However, travel to an airport or other mass transit terminal is treated as home-to-work travel. For an overnight stay, all travel during normal working hours, regardless of the day of the week, is compensable.
“The life I love is makin’ music with my friends, and I can’t wait to get on the road again.” Sorry if you have Willie Nelson in your head now.