It’s a hot topic, with a giant winter storm blanketing a lot of the country today. The question is: What is your company’s snow policy? Some people are saying that their company is zero-tolerance; if you’re scheduled to work and you don’t show up, you’re in trouble. Others are more lenient: Safety comes first, and if the authorities feel it’s not safe to travel, then stay home and do what you can.
Now, in some parts of the country the storm was worse than they said it would be and in others, not nearly as bad, but the debate is the same: is it okay for employers to “force” employees to show up for work if it’s potentially dangerous to travel?
Of course, the situations like Chicago and Sarnia, Ontario last month (where roads were shut down for three days and hundreds of motorists were simply stuck) are outliers; most storms are not going to be that bad. In the Detroit, Michigan area, businesses are complaining that the media hyped up the storm too much, which caused people to call in for no really good reason, as the roads were not deadly dangerous today.
The problem is made much less severe by those lucky businesses and employees who can telecommute. Can’t make it in to the office? No problem, work from home. Those in industries that don’t lend themselves to internet work, however, can be severely impacted. I noticed one tweet from a friend today that said, “Well, I braved the roads and came in because they told us to, but I’m the only one here. Work is dead.” There is always that danger as well; there may simply not be enough work to do on days like these.
It’s a very tricky situation. How do you or your company handle these types of issues?