What are your policies for unpredictable time off?
Winter’s here and while it may not be a popular decision, employers can, in some cases, make workers use paid time off (PTO) when severe climate conditions hit and employees can’t get into work, according to a SHRM article.
One legal expert in the article noted that short of a state law prohibition or a written company policy that says otherwise, if the business is open, an employer can make an employee use PTO. This typically only applies to exempt employees, not non-exempt workers who are only paid if they come to work.
Should the weather become a problem and an employer closes down for a few days as a result, then it has to pay an exempt worker their full salary if the worker has done or eventually does any work at all during the week, no matter where it takes place.
Experts in the article noted that creating a solid “inclement weather policy” is critical, so there is little confusion should bad weather interrupt the work week. Any policy must detail rules for exempt and non-exempt employees.
If an employer is going to invoke PTO use as a possibility for weather-related lost work time, should a business remain open, then that specific information must be spelled out clearly in an effective, legally sound policy. Of course, the same expert warned that invoking PTO under these circumstances could negatively impact worker morale.
Apart from a clear policy on PTO and bad weather, there is also the issue of employee safety. An employer will not want to take responsibility if an employee is ordered to work by a manager during risky weather conditions and the employee has an accident en route. In the end, common sense – and a clear policy on PTO and time off for bad weather – should rule, say experts.(SHRM website)