Bad-Weather Policies to Address Employees' Right to Safety
Under the concept of “at will employment," some employers are complacent about their bad weather decisions since there are no laws governing business organizations as to how to treat employees during adverse weather disturbances. However, employment actions or decisions in relation to the severity of weather conditions have to take into consideration the impact of such decisions on their employees. This is in light of the following circumstances:
- The threats to the health and safety of the employees in connection with the external or outdoor hazards brought about by weather adversities.
- The preparedness of the workplace for emergencies in order to lessen the potential adverse effects of natural calamities.
Payment of compensation for minimum wage earners or overtime-exempt employees who will perform work to make-up for lost time if the business is kept closed.
- The non-discriminatory or non-retaliatory nature of requiring employees to report for work or compensating those that do not report for work or those allowed to make-up for lost time.
The different administrative units of the Department of Labor (DOL), which includes the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Fair Labor Standards Administration (FSLA), and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), implement specific laws to uphold the rights of the employees.
Due to the ambivalence of decisions regarding employment conditions in times of severe weather disturbances, it would be best for a business organization to formulate HR weather policies and procedures. The same should be incorporated in the Employee’s Handbook to serve as a ready reference regarding the guidelines to be observed in the event the business will be forced to stay closed or if the employees will be required to report for work during adverse weather conditions.
The categorical statements of said policies and procedures will provide government administrative units the basis for discerning whether the employer’s treatment of employees in relation to adverse weather conditions encroaches on the rights of employees.