HR Management··7 min read

Should You Create An Official Inclement Weather Policy?

Inclement Weather Policy

Regardless of what type of business you run and where you are located, you need to have an inclement weather policy in place. Some business owners think that inclement weather policies are only important for businesses that are located in areas that are prone to adverse weather conditions. However, this is not true. While it's true that businesses in these areas face a large risk of being affected by adverse weather conditions, all companies need to have an inclement weather policy. If you take into account employee wellbeing, then you must consider being adequately prepared for bad weather.

What Does Inclement Weather Mean?

To fully understand why your business needs an inclement weather policy, you must first understand what inclement weather is. These are any severe or harsh weather conditions that threaten the safety of employees and make it impractical for them to travel or work. There are several conditions that fall under this definition.

It's important to know that inclement weather doesn't only refer to snow. Instead, it encompasses every weather-related threat and challenge. This includes heavy rain, hurricanes, winds, and tornadoes. You must also know that unremarkable weather in a particular region can be classified as inclement weather elsewhere. For instance, in an area like Boston, light snow might not be considered a problem. On the other hand, in the Southern states, it can cause some serious issues due to the lack of snowplows and de-icing equipment.

What is an Inclement Weather Policy?

An inclement weather policy is a document that clearly sets in place a company's rules, expectations, and operating procedures in case of bad weather. In other words, it outlines the standard operating procedure for inclement weather. This is a document that removes ambiguity when it comes to how business is to be handled in the case of inclement weather. For instance, with an inclement weather policy, an employee will already know whether they are expected to report to work and how the company will handle their pay and benefits if they fail to do so.

It is important to define policies for inclement weather before you encounter it. This is very beneficial to the company as it accelerates communication and increases productivity. Apart from that, it can also set provisions to keep your business running when you are facing an emergency. Without such a document, there can be a lot of inconveniences. For instance, an employee can brave dangerous weather only to find the office closed. Also, employees can stay home and discover at the end of the month that the pay is less than they expected.

You must therefore create an inclement weather policy and send an inclement weather memo to employees so everyone can know what to expect ahead of time. You can't just leave it to everyone to decide what they want to do when the weather is bad. After all, no one wants to have a fatality on their hands just because an employee thought they were required to come to work even if there was a storm.

Minimize Risk to Your Business

Businesses face a lot of challenges, including data theft and workplace accidents. Usually, there will be policies in place to deal with such situations. Weather poses almost a similar, if not worse, threat to your business; therefore, you must also have a policy for handling adverse weather conditions. This will greatly minimize risk to your business. For instance, if a flash flood occurs in your region, will you expect your employees to still come to work? And how would you handle a situation whereby roads are closed, and it becomes impossible for anyone to access the workplace?

If you establish an inclement weather policy, you will be able to execute the necessary preparedness procedures to address these and similar questions. The inclement weather policy and procedure will also decrease confusion and uncertainty.

Keep Your Most Valuable Assets Safe

One of your most valuable assets as a business is your employees. Therefore, to ensure they are adequately protected during bad weather conditions, you must implement an inclement weather policy. A policy of this kind must therefore have employee protection at the top of its priority list. It must include:

  • How employees can safely evacuate the workplace in case of bad weather
  • What safety equipment and resources the company needs to keep in stock
  • The compiling of up to date employee, customer, and supplier contact details
  • Running of yearly or semi-annual "planned emergency drills" to assess employee preparedness.

You must also ensure that everyone in the company knows who will be in charge if the leader is not present.

An Inclement Weather Policy Allows You to Plan Emergency Planning with Suppliers

When you experience bad weather, there is a high chance that your supply chain will be particularly vulnerable. This is will you need to determine if your main suppliers have a recovery plan in place. Your inclement weather policy determines such things as maintaining an up-to-date contact list of your crucial business contractors and vendors. These are the contacts that you will use during emergency situations.

An Inclement Weather Policy Outlines How You Will Communicate Externally

While internal emergency communications are very important and should be a priority for your policy, the policy will also cover a contingency plan for keeping communication open with customers. For instance, the policy can indicate which employees are tasked with contacting all the people on a preset list of customers. Apart from that, it will also list individuals who will post updates on customer service platforms like the company website or on different social media pages.

You must also use the policy to establish local media contacts you can contact during a crisis. It's important for your customers to stay informed about whether or not your business will be open during inclement weather. They must also know when you plan to reopen if you are going to be closed. The more information your customers have, the more they will trust you and continue working with you once the bad weather situation has passed.

Specify How Workers Will be Notified

The inclement weather policy is also important for specifying how employees will be contacted regarding workplace conditions. These details must be communicated via copies of the information sent out in the employee handbook. You can also let employees know during staff meetings and other channels of communication.

Payments for Employees During Inclement Weather

Companies should also have a plan in place regarding payments to employees during inclement weather. The policy will state how these payments will be handled when the business is closed or when employees are not able to make it work. The policy will also outline how partial workdays will be compensated and how working hours and reporting will be handled. For instance, will the time be paid or unpaid? If the absent time is unpaid, the employees must also know whether they can use the time as vacation or sick time.

The Policy Outlines How Businesses Will Assign Unavoidable Tasks and Duties

There are certain key operational tasks that can never be neglected, even during times of emergency. You must use the inclement weather policy to specify how these tasks are going to be handled since they are crucial to keeping the business running. For instance, where possible, some employees may be required to work remotely so that they can monitor how certain platforms are running. This includes things like cybersecurity. Even if businesses are closed, data still needs to be protected as long as systems are online.

Outlining Expectations for Telecommuting and Remote Work

If you are closing your premises due to bad weather, or if for some reason employees are not able to make it to the office, you must set a plan for how employees can telecommute and work remotely. Therefore, it is important to ensure that you have an inclement weather policy that states how telecommuting operates. For instance, if you allow non-exempt employees to work remotely during bad weather days, you must find a way to ensure that the workers record their hours properly and are aware that they must first request approval to put in some overtime.

These are some of the reasons why you need a corporate inclement weather policy. Failure to draft such a policy can lead to a lot of confusion and inconvenience for all stakeholders. If you are not sure how to draft one, you can find an inclement weather policy sample to use and get an idea of what should be included.

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