Challenging weather conditions are part of life all over the world - and when there is a major weather event it can be disruptive to your business. Inclement weather can include cyclones, hurricanes, major storms, snowstorms and blizzards, floods, tornadoes and even extreme heat or extreme cold.
Your business could be affected in different ways, from damage to buildings and infrastructure to power cuts and telecommunications outages through to employees being unable to attend the workplace or work outside.
When an inclement weather event hits, you need to be prepared for your business to close. An inclement weather policy is a useful tool to outline what your employees need to know and what they need to do ahead of time when there is a weather event that could affect your business and business continuity.
By planning ahead you can avoid added disruption and uncertainty and also have the reassurance that your employees can be kept as safe as possible.
Examples of what to include in your corporate inclement weather policy
Every business is different in the way it operates, while the geographic location or locations of your business will also be unique to you. Regardless, as an employer you have an obligation to keep employees safe, which should be a major factor when crafting an inclement weather policy.
1. Define what inclement weather means to your business
While you might not be able to cover off every single potential emergency, you should be prepared for the most common.
What counts as “inclement weather” in your location may not be inclement weather that is experienced somewhere else. Perhaps you live somewhere where hurricanes or cyclones are expected annually, or where blizzards and snowstorms affect you every winter.
The policy should cover the types of weather events you are most likely to experience in your geographic area and include scenarios about ways you could be affected.
2. Take into consideration any relevant laws in your jurisdiction
Labor laws vary around the world. In many countries there are government mandated rules you will need to follow when it comes to having employees work outside in inclement weather.
Some severe weather events may even lead to a formal “state of emergency” being declared which can include evacuations, shelter-in-place directives and other mandatory orders being issued by government officials that you must comply with.
3. Outline your responsibilities as an employer
Your policy should include information on the steps you will take to keep your employees and property safe during an inclement weather event. This includes:
- When to close your place of business.
- How long your place of business will remain closed for.
- What employees should do if there is an inclement weather event.
- Who can work remotely during an inclement weather event.
- What to do if there is no electricity.
- What to do if there is no telecommunications.
- What to do if there is no heating or cooling.
- What employees must do if they are unable to travel to and from work.
4. What happens to employee pay during an inclement weather incident?
In an inclement weather event it can be unreasonable or unsafe for an employee to work in the conditions. But whether you need to pay employees or not will depend on employment laws in your location. In many cases employees who are unable to attend the workplace may be entitled to their full salary while the company is closed.
In the United States, the Department of Labor mandates that if a business closes because of inclement weather or another emergency and an employee has worked during that week, they must be paid their normal salary in full, and you cannot make any deductions for absences.
Employers must also pay employees in full if their business closes either because of a state of emergency being declared, or because they have voluntarily closed during inclement weather.
When an emergency extends beyond one working week, employees are expected to use paid time off to cover any of the additional days the company will be closed.
Of course your organization may have agreements, contracts and policies in place in addition to labor laws that guarantee paid time off for employees.
It’s important that your policy outlines the steps it will take to notify employees, partners and customers about any closures and reopening, and when and how they can expect to receive this information. And when you have your corporate inclement weather policy in place, don’t forget to let your employees know via DeskAlerts!
We’ve created a free inclement weather policy sample for you to download and customize to suit your business, to save you time.
How you can use DeskAlerts to communicate about inclement weather with your employees
It’s important to have a reliable internal communications system to inform your employees about an inclement weather situation that is going to, or has the potential to, affect your business.
With DeskAlerts you can send emergency notifications urgently to all of your employees when there is an emergency or disaster situation unfolding. You can send more than 10,000 critical notifications in as quickly as one to two seconds.
Your alert notifications can include information about the weather event and the impact it will have on your business (for example, if you will have to close) and the steps that employees need to take to be safe.
Notifications can be sent to any corporate device - to desktop and laptop computers, cell phones and tablets.
DeskAlerts messages are sent via a user-friendly platform that saves time in an emergency situations. Messages sent to computers will appear on top of any other work the employee is doing at the time, and will also appear even if the computer is on screensaver or standby mode.
If you need to send an alert quickly you can do so directly from a shortcut on your computer desktop without needing to log in to the system… and if you don’t have access to your computer during the weather event, notifications can be sent to employees via a mobile app on your phone or tablet.
You can save even more time by creating templates in advance that you just need to populate with relevant information during an inclement weather event. Find the most useful hurricane notification templates here.
With DeskAlerts you can also see who has read your messages and who hasn’t - allowing you to focus any follow up action if necessary.
The safety of your employees during an emergency, including inclement weather, is paramount. While these types of events are fortunately not always frequent, being prepared can save you lots of time and additional pain and inconvenience when your company is in the midst of one.