Remember last year’s mess on the roads? If you recall, lots of Hartford-area employers sent their employees home early during a snow storm — creating gridlock and lots and lots of headaches. As a result, Gov. Rell set up a task force to coordinate with the largest area employees on their dismissal patterns. 

Tomorrow will be the first big test of that, with the forecast calling for heavy snow during the afternoon and evening commute.  

But suppose you’re not one of those employers affected by the task force, what are some issues to think about (which follows up a post I did last year on the subject as well).  If you don’t already have an inclement weather policy (or even if you do), you can ask yourself:

  • Will employees be paid for the time when the business is closed?
  • Will employees be paid if they don’t report to work due to inclement weather when the business is open?
  • Can an employer discipline or discharge and employee for failing to report to work due to weather conditions when the business is open?

Quite simply, absent a declaration of a state of emergency, private employers are free to determine their own policies for handling snow storms (or another natural events.) 

Some employers may ask — what should I do for our company? The answer is, of course, it depends. Some employers who need to maintain operations 24/7 (a hospital, hotel, etc) may want to designate certain employees as "essential". Others may decide that they can deal with telecommuting employees for a half-day.

But establishing a policy at the outset so employees know what to expect is essential to avoiding problems later on. Ultimately, setting reasonable expectations (asking employees to call in if late, and having them make up for lost time) may be all that is needed for some.