Once Upon a time the “Polar Vortex” came to the United States and stopped everything. That will be the story we will tell in 20 years with great exaggeration about how we walked uphill to do our jobs with frostbite. The truth is almost everything shut down.
I can’t remember having four snow days before February. In 1999 with 21.6 inches on the ground, schools only closed for two days. We are just bitterly cold, so that means most of the grown-ups have to go to work. With closed schools, closed businesses, impassable roads and cancelled flights, the productivity loss could reach as high as $5 billion dollars according to Planalytics, Inc.
Employees have two choices to ensure a complete paycheck. They can use Time Off Hours or find a way to get to work. Most Time Off banks reset at the beginning of the calendar year which all but ensures that employees are paid or at least not penalized for this early time off. But that will all change when the beach is calling and employees have forgotten about these days.
I wrote a status on Facebook about weather related days off and someone responded suggesting that employees would not want to “tap into” their Vacation Time. Unfortunately, giving employees unlimited time off is not realistic for a business to accommodate, paid or unpaid.
Here are some tips for managing time off early in the year:
- If you don’t have a policy, now is the time to make one. What you allow for one employee you must allow for all. Consistency is important!
- Remind every one of the current policy. Cut and paste your Time Off section from your Guidebook and send it in an email or as a memo to the entire staff.
- If you can, design your checks to calculate and display available time off and/or time off used.
- Plan quarterly payroll inserts to remind employees how much time they have taken and the amount they have remaining.
- Communicate with employees about weather or school closing contingency plans.
There are more storms on the horizon. Make sure you are communicating with your employees about how you are processing time off. No one likes a surprise on their check or on their Time Off Request Form!