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Q&A: We have employees that are unable to get to work due to the hurricane…

Question:

We have employees that are unable to get to work due to the hurricane. Some of them haven’t contacted us at all and we’re wondering if we should follow our three-day no-show termination policy. We’re also wondering about paying everyone – should we use their sick or vacation time or just have these days be unpaid?

Answer from Angela, PHR:

Great questions. As to the first, even if you have a no-show termination policy that you usually follow, I recommend demonstrating as much flexibility as you can during this chaotic time. Hopefully, your attendance policy allows for management discretion; even if it doesn’t say that explicitly, this is certainly a unique enough situation that you should be comfortable making some exceptions to the rule. Hurricanes can result in power outages, gas shortages, school and childcare closings, and massive flooding. When deciding how to respond, consider employee morale and the sensitivity of the larger community.

Many companies have an inclement weather or emergency closure policy for these sorts of situations. These policies typically address communication in the event of outages, attendance during mandatory evacuations, and options for employees. You might, for example, allow employees to work from home, take a PTO or vacation day, or take a day off without pay. If you don’t have a policy like this in place, now might be the time to implement one. You can find an inclement weather policy in the HR Support Center Policy Library.

Please note that under these circumstances exempt employees must be paid for missed time without a reduction in salary. This holds true whether they miss full or partial days. With that said, you may require exempt employees to use accrued vacation or PTO for the day as long as that is your regular practice when an employee is unable to make it to work. Exempt employees without sufficient vacation to cover the absence must be provided with their regular salary.

Angela, PHR

Angela has extensive experience in HR, conflict management and employee relations. She spent several years working as a high volume (and full cycle) recruiter for a large multi-channel retailer. Angela earned her B.A. in English Literature and Criminology from the University of South Florida. and also holds a paralegal certification from Saint Petersburg College.

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