Cold weather affects work planning, payroll

Snow and cold weather can trap employees at home, and businesses need to be ready to respond in these situations.

Snow and cold weather can trap employees at home, and businesses need to be ready to respond in these situations.

While offices usually have a set list of holidays they are prepared to take off, sometimes the weather has other plans. In the middle of winter, low temperatures coupled with snowfall and ice can easily make attendance in the workplace impossible for many employees, and require planning and a suitable response plan from company managers. Thinking ahead and putting an action plan into place will help businesses guarantee consistent performance even in surprising circumstances.

Many grew up with the idea of "snow days" at school, days when the normal schedule was canceled completely because of bad weather. Most companies can't afford to completely shut down due to the cold, but can put backup plans in place to anticipate possible difficulties.

If working from home is an option, businesses can revert to this sort of setup to help encourage productivity. But another concern during snow days is payroll performance. Writing for the Knoxville News Sentinel, Janet Strevel Hayes said that the difference in processing work time comes down to whether employees are exempt or non-exempt.

"If an employee stays home because of weather-related concerns, the employer is not required to pay," she says. "Likewise, if the employer closes early or opens late, the employer is required to pay nonexempt employees only for hours spent working. Exempt employees (typically salaried) are in a different situation." On the other hand, exempt employees do need to be paid for any work they do, and have to be compensated if the business stays closed for an extended period of time.

Strategic use of HR software solutions gives employers the tools to address both the standard amount of days off for workers and sudden, unexpected intrusions into the work schedule.