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Business owners face many challenges. From supply chain logistics and ever-changing employment laws to economic turndowns and employee turnover. That list of challenges can at times include inclement weather issues and other emergencies outside of management’s control. As the saying goes, you can’t always control the situation, but you can control your response. For businesses, having sound policies in place for such circumstances is essential so that you ensure safety and mitigate your losses.

Your business could be forced to close due to:

  • Hurricanes, floods, tornados, snow, ice
  • Power outages
  • Loss of heating/cooling
  • Terrorist attacks or mass shootings
  • Emergencies declared by the government

With so much else on your business owner or manager plate, you may need some help with establishing an inclement weather and emergency closing policy. By partnering with a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) such as Resourcing Edge you can get compliant policies about office closures resulting from inclement weather or other emergencies.

Why Emergency Policies Are Necessary

If your business is located in an area at high risk for bad weather, such as hurricanes or heavy snowfall, or in an earthquake zone, there may be times when Mother Nature strikes and forces you to close. Even if roads are passable in those situations, utilities may be disrupted and you can’t open for business. It’s these times that you need a clear policy that covers how employees, vendors, clients and customers will be notified of the closure and subsequent re-opening, what if any pay can be expected, how benefits could be affected, and additional information that could pertain to part-day closures or the inability of employees to get to work due to the emergency.

By providing information proactively for such situations, you will have one less worry during what may be a chaotic time. Being prepared for such occurrences, and following your policy, will also help pave the way to an orderly resumption of business.

What to Include in an Inclement Weather/Emergency Closing Policy

If you partner with a PEO, we can help draft an inclement weather/emergency policy that takes into consideration the size of your business, your industry, and your location. A large manufacturer on the Atlantic Coast will have different policy needs than a small business in the Midwest.

But there are certain provisions that typically will be in most such policies. These include:

  • Notification: if your business is small, notifications about closure can be as simple as a phone tree or that a manager or admin handles calling, texting, or emailing employees, vendors, and customers. For larger operations, there are vendors who can push such notifications out through text messages. You just have to set it up in advance by providing the cell phone numbers of who should be contacted.
  • Pay: You need to consider if employees will be paid if the business is fully shut down and no work can be completed. This question is not as easy to answer as it might seem. State and federal laws may dictate under certain circumstances when employees must be paid. For example, salaried workers who can work from home would still be paid their full salary, despite the office being closed. For hourly workers, typically, no work means no pay. You can decide, as well, that you want to have a policy that allows for pay for employees if the business is closed because of an emergency. It is important, however, to work with HR pros, such as those at Resourcing Edge, so the correct policy regarding pay is in place.
  • Benefits: For health, life, and disability insurance, most companies will continue to provide them for up to 30 days, unless regulations provide otherwise. Fringe benefits, such as a paid lunch every Friday, would not continue in the case of a closing.
  • Miscellaneous: There may be circumstances where you can get your business back up and running, but one of more of your employees can’t get there. For example, the roads from there home are flooded. Your emergency policy will need to address situations such as these. You should also consider having guidelines for partial closings or for allowing remote work.

Inclement Weather/Emergency Policy Is a Must-Have for Your Business

Stephen King once wrote, “There’s no harm in hoping for the best as long as you’re prepared for the worst.” That holds true for your business. Even if you believe your risks are minimal that you could face closure from forces outside your control, it pays to prepare. The good news is that by partnering with a PEO like Resourcing Edge, you don’t have to go it alone. We can help you draft a policy that works for you, your employees, and your clients.

Contact Resourcing Edge today about how we can help you with compliant policies so you can focus on your bottom line.

Kim Freeman is the Director of HR Services at Resourcing Edge and a licensed attorney. The information presented in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or create a lawyer-client relationship.

Kim Freeman, JD, Director of HR Services
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