Weather Wimps

As we dig out here from the mountains of snow, we have noticed that a number of employees are still choosing to remain home. Since we are located in the northwest, we are accustomed to the snow and the county is pretty good about clearing the roads, so safety is probably only an issue for those who live in more remote areas. Once the schools have reopened, we believe that employees should be returning to work. Does anyone have suggestions for how to get weather "wimps" back to work? A policy? Should we treat employees in more remote areas differently?



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  • Your policy on inclement weather should state that unless roads are closed by the Department of Transportation, your company is open, and employees are expected to report to work.  Also include something like "each employee should observe weather and road conditions in his or her area and decide whether it is unduly hazardous to attempt to drive to work. The company does not expect employees to take an unreasonable risk attempting to drive to work; however, nonexempt employees not reporting to work will not be paid for the day. Exempt workers not reporting may take the day as a vacation day with a supervisor's approval." 

    Since there is no public transportation for your employees in rural areas, they must drive themselves.  You could contract with a local driving school to come in and give a training session on proper techniques for driving on ice and snow, which might give some timid drivers more confidence.

    To be honest, I think that employees who come in all stressed from driving in and then are nervous all day about driving home aren't very productive.  If a number of employees are out for a snow day,  use this as a chance to see how your emergency planning procedures work, i.e., are enough line employees crosstrained to keep production going, etc.

  • Also, depending on your industry/nature of your work, you may have a number of exempt employees who can accomplish some, if not the majority, of their job responsibilities at home.  If you live in an area where inclement weather is common, any department with employees that could get their work done remotely should have a plan/policy in place including what's expected of someone who chooses to work at home under such circumstances. This way, you don't have employees risking life and limb just for "face" time in the office, if they could be just as productive (or perhaps more productive once you factor in the extra-long commutes that accompany inclement weather) and as an employer,  you don't wind up with a "lost" day in terms of productivity.
  • Why not just require the Weather Wimps to use vacation time for any day that you are open and they don't return to work?  They get to make the determination of whether it's safe to drive and don't feel pressured to jeopardize their safety.  Most times, your company won't be losing anything but a couple of days of productivity, which you will normally lose during vacations anyway, and your employees will bear the responsibility of deciding whether getting to work is safe.  You don't have to be the bad guys and the company forfeits nothing. 

  • We are located in the mid-west and we do not close even when the schools close. If staff do not feel they can make it to work then they have the option of working at one of our three locations within the county.  If they choose not to then they can take a vacation day.  Staff do like to waste vacation days so that usually gets them back to work.
  • we have employee that wants to stay home because it is too hot outside. the temperature is supposed to be above 100 degrees for the next several days.  she says she has a tough time breathing in such hot weather.  do you think she is a "weather wimp" (our building has air conditioning and i assume her car has air conditioning)?
  • Reg, I have some questions for you--

    Has this employee self-identified as having asthma?  If so, she may not be a "hot-weather wimp."  Does she have enough vacation or sick days to use to stay home during heat waves? Or, are you willing to accommodate her by letting her telecommute on days where there is an alert for unacceptable air quality? 

  • Right this may be an accommodation issue under the ADA depending upon what her health condition is... the EEOC has said that telework can be a reasonable accommodation under certain circumstances. 

    But, if she just doesn't like hot weather...then i wouldn't let her work at home. Everyone would be making that excuse, then hanging out by their pools!

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