Should your business take a snow day?

HR expert Karen Young offers advice on how to approach winter weather

Schools do it. Government offices do it. Should businesses also take snow days?

The answer isn’t always easy, but Karen Young, president of HR Resolutions LLC in Lower Paxton Township, offers the following advice:

1. Evaluate what your company does, and whether you need to do it when the weather turns rough.

Young recalls “cutting her HR teeth” at the Harrisburg Paper Co. under the late C. Ted Lick.

“We sold toilet paper to nursing homes and hospitals. So we were open,” Young chuckled.

At her own company, Young acknowledged that “we don’t cure cancer here, and we don’t deliver toilet paper to nursing homes.”

“If my employees don’t believe they can safely come to work, I don’t want them to try to come to work,” Young said.

2. Make sure employees know your policy on snow days and how you will communicate the decision to close.

Young said it’s more likely for her company to delay its start time rather than close. In that case, HR Resolutions follows the Central Dauphin School District’s lead, which reflects what’s happening in the community and is easy for employees to learn through local media.

Either way, however, she stressed the importance of having a clear communication chain before the flakes fly.

3. Sometimes, though, you really just have to close.

“If the governor declares a state of emergency, I can’t make my employees come to work,” Young says.

4. Working from home can be an option for those who cannot make it.

As Young points out, it’s difficult for any business, especially a small business, to lose a full day of productivity. If employees are in a position to work from home — as many increasingly do, even when there isn’t a weather emergency — that can help minimize the impact of severe weather.

5. You need to be compliant with wage and hourly pay requirements.

With exempt employees, you cannot deduct pay due to a weather-related closure.

With hourly employees, however, what do you do?

“We aren’t required to pay them for not working,” Young noted, but she also doesn’t believe it’s appropriate for those people to suffer through no fault of their own.

For that reason, she believes it’s important to have an advance plan for ways in which hourly employees can mitigate the issue, such as making up hours later in the week or being allowed to use PTO time, for example.

Roger DuPuis
Roger DuPuis covers Cumberland County, health care, transportation, distribution, energy and environment. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at rdupuis@cpbj.com.

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