everything you need to know about snow days at work

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featured-on-usnWith the snow storm that hit much of the eastern part of the U.S. yesterday, you might be wondering whether you get paid when your office is closed, if your employer can require you to work despite the storm, and other questions that arise when weather intersects with work.

Over at U.S. News & World Report, I answer the following:

  • Can my employer require me to come into work even if the weather is making it hard for me to get there?
  • If my company says that we should use our own judgment about whether to come in during snow, does it look bad if I stay home?
  • If my employer shuts down the office for a snow day, do they still have to pay me?
  • If my employer shuts down for a snow day, can they require that I use a vacation day for the time?
  • If I’m on scheduled leave when my company shut down for snow, do I still have to use up a vacation day for that time, even though my company was closed?

You can read it here.

{ 88 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. My 2 Cents

    Question on something not specifically covered:

    In my area, when the weather gets really bad, the local government can and does restrict travel to ONLY emergency situations. If you are out driving and it’s not an emergency, then you can be ticketed.

    In cases like that where it is illegal to drive, can your employer still require you to come to the office, especially if you are NOT an emergency worker.

    Seems like this shouldn’t be a problem because if it’s illegal to drive then your employer won’t try to make you come in, but I have worked for someone who was just that much of a jerk to require people to come in regardless. And this was for an arts organization, not an emergency worker in any way, shape, or form.

    Reply
    1. Non-profit worker

      Oh, I wonder if we worked in the same place.

      I worked in downtown DC for a small nonprofit. Our operations director (who lived in the far burbs and didn’t come in on bad weather days because he had small children) didn’t believe in snow days for staff. So frustrating.

      One day I spent three hours making my usually 20 minute commute. Getting home took a bit longer. He had INSISTED we had to be there and that we had to stay all day. He did not even attempt to come in, nor did the executive director. Yet somehow, all the staff was essential personnel on a day that the feds and all the local governments were closed.

      Getting laid off from there was a fabulous thing, even though I did not recognize it at the time.

      Reply
      1. Sascha

        Sounds a bit like where I used to work…I worked at a small university, and my job could be done completely online. My department was outfitted with laptops that could vpn so we could work remotely. And yet the president insisted that my department, and no other HAD to be on campus during ice and snow days. My director didn’t come in. No other departments came in. We all had our laptops at home and could have easily worked from home. But the president and our director made us come in, for reasons I’ll never understand.

        Reply
        1. Mike C.

          I hate these employers so much. Their completely unreasonable demands force people on the road who don’t need to be, increase strain on emergency services and put people in danger.

          For what? Because they irrationally fear people working at home are lazy? That they might have to eat a day of productivity?

          Lots of people in office jobs believe that they don’t have to worry about on the job safety issues, situations like this prove them wrong.

          I hope anyone who runs into this situation is willing to send anonymous tips to places like Gawker or your local media outlets. I’m sure the heads of emergency services would love to know the names of people making their jobs more difficult.

          Reply
          1. annie

            I’m in the same situation (not life-saving office job that can be done entirely online at home if needed), and we never close either. On the productivity front, when I’m forced to battle my way in officially declared, government warned dangerous conditions into the office, I’m usually always late because the public transit system and/or roads are a disaster, I spend half the day being angry about how I’ve been force to risk my life for a non-essential sector of the economy when I could be getting things done at home instead, and the remaining time obsessively checking the weather reports and worrying about the best way to commute home, which roads will be closed, if my car will start again to go home and/or if the trains will stop running, which of my friends’ homes are near enough that I can crash at if I can’t make it to mine, etc. So they loose waaaaaay more productivity out of me on the days I’m forced to come in.

            Reply
          2. Brett

            I’m one of those people who is authorized by local government to be on the road in that situation to get to and from work.

            In really bad conditions, you can drive through anything when you are the only one on the road. Add other cars though, and you have problems. The worst thing I ever had happen was returning back from a disaster response shift in extreme winter weather conditions.

            I was doing great until I encountered a car going about 10 miles an hour. People like to drive that way here, even though it is a sure fire way to get stuck. Knowing that following them would likely lead to me getting stuck, I went to pass them on an open straight away.

            They ran me off the road! Not sure it was intentional, but as I passed them they veered right into my lane and forced me into plowed snow in the shoulder. Since I do drive in these situations, I had snow shovels, sand, boards, etc. in the back of my car and was able to dig myself out and get back on the road.

            But I wonder what their emergency was.

            Reply
      2. Lisa

        My boss thinks you are more committed if you show up on a snow day than work from home. I could come in 2 hours late, do nothing but be on Facebook all day while my co-worker pumps out emails and docs continuously for 8 hours at home, and I still look like I am the better employee for showing up.

        Reply
    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      Interesting. I’d guess that if you were fired over not driving in those conditions, you could successfully win a wrongful termination suit, since you were fired for refusing to break the law (which is one of the few exceptions to at-will employment).

      Of course, an employer could require you to walk or sled to walk.

      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        To add to that person’s question regarding a state of emergency (emergency personnel only on the roads) – can they then charge you a vacation day for that?

        Reply
        1. The IT Manager

          Yes. Companies don’t have to provide vacation days by law so they can write rules for this “perk” any way they like including if you miss work b/c of weather they can make you take it as a vacation day.

          Should they is something that can be debated? Can they? Yes.

          Reply
      2. Mike C.

        I hear this come up a great deal to be honest. Usually it’s a franchise/satellite office of a large company who may not understand/believe/give a crap about local weather conditions.

        I do wish that public officials would come up with a clear “Do not travel unless you’re an emergency first responder” versus “Try to avoid travel”. If the former, I wish they would address employers as a whole directly and tell them to knock it off.

        Reply
        1. JamieG

          Better than addressing employers, I wish they’d fine the companies forcing people to come in. That’s probably the only way anything would actually change.

          Reply
        2. ExceptionToTheRule

          Our county emergency management team tried to warn the major downtown employers in my city about an impending storm last week, so they could start sending people home early.

          The employers didn’t see the need. The snow started at about 4:00 pm (as predicted) and the employers let out at 5, by which time the snow storm was a full blown blizzard. Commutes that normal took 20 minutes were 3 and half to 4 hours.

          Reply
      3. Gruntled Gal

        If someone is an hourly employee, and the commutefor themself and all other employees is normally no more than half hour each way (1 hour total), and then a snowstorm ups that time to 3 hrs each way as mentioned (6 HOURS total)… I don’t suppose there’s any recourse to receive pay for the insanity of an extra 5 hours they’re forced to endure for their job (almost DOUBLING their work day,) eh ;)

        Reply
    3. holly

      i was curious about this too! have also lived in a place where local govt would announce levels of emergency and a certain level would be illegal to drive. i don’t believe i would do illegal things for my workplace.

      Reply
  2. Yup

    Alison and other managers, can you elaborate on why a company might decide to close for a snow day but have employees use vacation time instead of awarding a company holiday? (And I mean “close” as in shut down operations for the day & no one is expected to work remotely.)

    I’ve always wondered about this, because it seemed like not asking people to use their vacation time is one of those little morale things that goes a long way. I assumed that using vacation time instead was partly a financial call and partly not wanting to set a precedent, but I have no idea if this is accurate.

    Reply
    1. Wilton Businessman

      Because everybody uses a vacation day that day.

      When large numbers of people are out, a reasonable employer will say that everybody that was out uses a vacation day and everybody gets an extra vacation day this year. If you came into work, you get an extra vacation day. If you didn’t come into work, you’re not harmed.

      Reply
      1. The IT Manager

        I think most people complain because companies are not giving employees an extra vacation day (ie PTO). They are being forced to use one of a limitted number of vacation days for a day that they are stuck inside due to snow. Not that people want to work, but they want an extra day off not a day off on a day of the company’s choosing.

        Reply
    2. EK

      Some businesses need to be competitive with other organizations in areas such as the percent of expenditures spent on overhead or fringe benefits. Unscheduled paid holidays can bring the fringe benefit rate up, which might make the organization less competitive, which might make it harder to bring in money– that other organization that has a lower fringe rate got the grant instead. It is still a choice for the business owner/finance people as to how they want to handle it, but particularly in a case where there were maybe multiple snow days in a year and as a result dozens or hundreds of days worth of extra time off given, I could see deciding that it is worth the morale hit in order to help maintain a position to make it easier to get funds in the future… after all, laying people off or not giving raises or something because you don’t have money coming in is a morale problem too.

      Reply
      1. Yup

        Thanks for responding! The percent overhead/fringe aspect is interesting. (The snow-day-that’s-a-vacation-day is one of those business scenarios where I find the prevailing standard illogical so I’m extra curious about the decision-making behind it.)

        Reply
  3. Steve

    I’ve always hated the “use your own judgement” thing. There’s always someone who lives near your or uses part of your same route that insists on coming in AND telling everyone how they had NO problems getting there. Meanwhile you arrive an hour or two later hoping that daylight makes travel easier and you’re viewed as if you took advantage of the situation. You get to hear things like “Bill made it here on time,” or “Betty said all the roads were clear,” and in your head you’re wondering if it was Bill’s or Betty’s careless storm driving that forced all those cars into the ditch that you noticed along the way.

    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      My organization uses the “use your own judgement” thing when some people can make it in safely and others can’t. We want work to be done but don’t want people to take risks. And our staff have good judgement.

      And we don’t compare the results to each other. Your problem with “use your own judgement” points to deeper issues in terms of lack of trust where you work.

      Reply
      1. fposte

        I see the point, though. My university uses “use your own judgment” in the same email as “officially, we never close due to weather.” So it’s “use your own judgment” same as taking any vacation day is using your own judgment, which people really don’t need to be told.

        Reply
        1. Anonymous

          Sometimes it makes a little bit of a difference- If my agency says “Use your own judgment” in an email about preparations for expected weather conditions , it means that I can approve more leave than usual as I don’t have to ensure even a skeleton staff. In fact, I’ve gotten emails stating that no staff were present in a particular office which go on to remind everyone that the office is not closed. ( It’s not closed because only the Governor has that authority)

          Reply
    2. Mike C.

      It depends on so many factors! Here in the Seattle area, plowing/deicing is all over the place, and there are significant rain shadow effects. Not to mention personal comfort driving in the snow, access to specific vehicles/mass transit and so on.

      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        Very true! That stuff makes a big difference. If me and my coworker both live on the same street and I have a Jeep and they have a little car, I can (very slowly) get through the deep snow but they’re gonna be stuck!

        Reply
    3. kelly

      My manager at the first job out of college was like that. He said if he could make it in living the furthest away, then everyone could. Once over a foot of snow plus lake effect was predicted, I asked him if the store would close. He cheerfully answered “we never close”, like it was a point of pride for him. I made it in because I had a vehicle with four wheel drive, but there were barely any customers in. It probably cost more to run the store and for payroll that day than the total sales. He was not a good manager in more ways than one, but his attitude that if he could make it in, everyone else scheduled was supposed to.

      I think it’s absurd that most retail only shuts down due to weather if it’s either too cold/snowy/windy for vehicles to be out on the road. Most stores probably barely make their target and they lose money having to stay open.

      Reply
  4. venting

    just need to vent for a second. most of my colleagues decided to take a snow day the day before our most recent storm (some saying they’d be working from home, some just not showing up) despite all transportation working and some being walking distance. today, office is open and there are minimal delays but the same thing happened. oh, except people also need to sign off early. we live in a place with frequent snow and great plowing / public transportation. uggggh.

    Reply
    1. the gold digger

      Yep. A few weeks ago, when it was going to be 20 below before wind chill, my boss and I were the only ones who made it into work. The other ten people in the office didn’t. Cars start at that temperature. Roads are drivable. If I were their boss, I would have been ticked off. Cold is not a reason not to come to work, especially when you live in the upper midwest where cold is normal.

      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        Cold was a reason for me to not go to work today :)

        It’s also way colder than -20! Your coworkers are wimps.

        Reply
        1. Mary

          Wimps, indeed! I used to live and work in a place where it regularly reached -50 in the winter. Yep. Negative 50. They did not close down, though managers were understanding of things like “My plug-in failed and my engine block is frozen” or “One of my belts snapped in the cold, so I can’t move the car.”

          However, I ended up buying a house 1 mile from work and 1 block from the bus stop. When my car froze solid, I took the bus to work. Waiting outside for a bus at -50? Not fun.

          Reply
          1. Gjest

            Yeah, I’ve lived in Alaska and northern Norway for the last decade, and cold & snow (even multiple feet of snow) are not excuses.

            Other excuses that are acceptable: avalanche covering the road, ash from volcanic eruption falling, moose/reindeer blocking the door to office, bears in yard. Yep, I’ve had to use all of those.

            Reply
            1. ExceptionToTheRule

              A friend of mine in college was from Alaska and said “moose in driveway” was a valid & acceptable excuse for everything.

              Reply
        2. KellyK

          It’s not just the temp, it’s also what kind of commute you have and whether that’s normal or completely abnormal for the area. Twenty below is a pretty major frostbite and hypothermia risk, especially if you walk or wait for a bus. In areas where that kind of weather is common, people are likely to own the winter gear that goes along with it. But if it’s a record-setting cold snap, not everyone will have prepared for it (because why own heavy-duty cold-weather gear that you never use?). And it’s generally not reasonable to expect someone to risk injury to get to work.

          Reply
      2. TychaBrahe

        I’ve already had two upper respiratory infections this year. I take public transportation. I’m not traveling when the windchill is that low.

        Reply
    2. fposte

      Oh, I think I’ve been driving behind them lately–they crawl along a nicely cleared in-town road at 5 miles per hour.

      Reply
      1. Mike C.

        Christ, I hate those people so much. Yes, I get it, the street your house was on was bad, but you’re on I5 now, get over it.

        Reply
          1. Jean

            Years ago on a snowy day in the Philadelphia area, driver of vehicle #1 shot a gun at vehicle #2 (in same lane as, but directly in front of, #1) because #2 was going too slowly.

            No, I can’t immediately Google this to document the anecdote, but it remains my all-time favorite story of winter road insanity.

            Reply
    3. Sascha

      I used to have a coworker who would call in when it rained. She lived a little further out than me, and yes, driving in bad rain can be a pain, but really…it’s rain…it’s not that bad.

      P.S. It was mostly just regular rain storms, nothing with hail or tornados or sharks.

      Reply
      1. fposte

        “I don’t care if it’s a shark-nado! You don’t have a convertible! Roll your windows up and get on the road!”

        Reply
      2. VintageLydia

        Bless SyFy for giving us sharknados. Our grandchildren will look at us funny but I will never let that one die.

        Reply
    4. JM

      Just to clarify: they didn’t come into work the day the snow was supposed to start? Like it was supposed to start snowing at 2 and perfectly clear in the morning and they just decided not to show up?

      Because yesterday I went into work because the snow was supposed to be in the afternoon and my commute home was more than 3 times what it is usually. Had I experienced something like that before, I most likely wouldn’t have shown up yesterday.

      Reply
      1. venting

        Yup – was supposed to start at the end of the day. When I left the office around 6 there was maybe an inch or 2 of snow on the ground. Some traffic, but nothing crazy. The morning was perfectly clear.

        Reply
        1. Anonymous

          It was supposed to start here at noon, but started at 8 am. It took me 5 hours to get home (normally its 2), so I can understand the reasoning, especially when the forecasts seem to be off by hours lately.

          Reply
          1. Anonymous

            This.

            My spouse went to work, then the snow was much heavier than expected, earlier (by midday), and she had to go home very slowly to make it home safely.

            She’d planned to leave an hour early (4pmish) but that would have been disastrous – she left around 1:30pm. I wish she hadn’t gone in at all.

            It’s not just the commute in but the commute home that has be taken into consideration.

            Reply
        2. VintageLydia

          Honestly, at least in my area, the weather can be completely different from one end of the region to the other (DC metro area.) People can be commuting in from Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia. It wouldn’t be weird to have a foot of snow in Greenbelt, MD and under half a foot in Alexandria. We’re just weird geologically in respect to weather patterns, so the idea that over half the office couldn’t make it in while the other half had clear roads isn’t terrible unusual here.

          And traffic here is BAD on the best days. Just a few years ago OPM cut the government workers loose at 3PM. Snow wasn’t supposed to start until 5 or 6 so theoretically people would be able to get home before it got bad. Snow started around 4 and it fell fast and dumped way more snow than even the worst predictions. People were in their cars for 6 or more hours, many abandoning them. Plows couldn’t get through, just making the issue worse. Since then my friends have been very very conservative when it comes to winter weather here. If they can work from home, they do.

          Maybe your colleagues are from a place like this? Where we get snow but the forecasting is so all over the map that no one can properly plan for it?

          Reply
      2. Nancypie

        I didn’t go in to work yesterday, because in the am, the schools informed us they were closing early (an adult should be home to receive them). But then it started snowing lightly around 8 am anyway. Realistically, I could have driven no problem until mid-day, but then my coworkers who did go in all had horror stories of getting home yesterday afternoon/evening. So no regrets, even though I am home for day 2.

        Reply
    5. Recent College Grad

      I live in the upper Midwest too — that was a fun day. In defense of the no-shows, it took my old car 4 tries to finally start (but I figured that it wouldn’t start at all and was prepared to work from home.)

      Reply
    6. kelly

      Two weeks ago, we had record lows. With the chill at one point it was almost 50 below. Most of the school districts cancelled class for both Monday and Tuesday. I understand Monday because of the extreme cold, but Tuesday would have been doable because it wasn’t as cold. All of the mass transit buses were running and commuters were standing outside in the extreme cold. It’s supposed to be very cold on Monday with another high of surface temp below zero. I’m not so sure they will cancel classes this time because most outlying districts have to make up at least two snow days already and there’s anther 2 months of winter left.

      Reply
      1. Callie

        School buses are not always built like mass transit buses and might not run well in cold weather. Also, there are children in poor districts in parts of the country that don’t usually get snow who don’t have adequate winter clothing to be standing at the bus stop at 6 am.

        Reply
        1. KellyK

          +1

          Canceling school for the cold makes perfect sense to me. In addition to everything you said, kids have a harder time maintaining body temperature than adults do because of lower body mass.

          Also keep in mind that there are kids who walk to school or to the bus stop. Weather that it might be reasonable to expect a kid to stand outside in for 10 minutes isn’t necessarily reasonable for a half-mile walk and *then* that 10-minute wait. (Not to mention that if roads are snowy, buses may not be quite on schedule.)

          Reply
  5. another anonymous

    Another venting story here. A former employer did not close the office, and say 20% of us made it in that morning. They ended up closing the office after several hours, forcing us to go home early. I wouldn’t have minded, but we also had to use vacation for the whole day. Legal, I guess yes. But a morale killer.

    Reply
  6. Brett

    What’s really annoying is when your employer closes for the day and charges everyone a vacation day….

    but you are already at work and not allowed to go home.

    Reply
    1. Steve

      Not allowed to go home as in the above mentioned it’s not legal to drive because they’ve declared a state if emergency? Or not allowed to go home as in they are making you stay at work to take care of things that might come up? Wouldn’t that be a situation where they would have to pay you because you’re there working even though they’re “closed?”

      Reply
      1. James M

        I don’t think Brett is talking about not getting paid for working. It sounds like all employees were docked a vacation day, including those (Brett) who actually worked that day.

        Reply
    2. Brett

      As in you are part of a operational function (e.g. building security), so bad weather means you have to stay on. But the rest of business functions are closed for the day so everyone gets charged a vacation day.

      Reply
  7. Anonymous

    Normally, I’m a pretty reasonable person, but I suffer extreme – as in up at 3am in fits of hysterical sobbing – anxiety at the prospect of driving in snow. I know that it’s unreasonable, I know that I’m being a wimp, but as much as I try to be rational about it, I am rarely successful.

    I am so grateful to my employer for having a flexible PTO system. I also have the kind of job where working from home is a good option every once in a while. But, honestly, the attitude that you should just “tough it out” or that you are somehow a less dedicated employee because you couldn’t make it in, despite everybody else’s perception that the roads are fine makes things so. much. worse. I know that everybody who makes it into the office is judging me. But I’d rather be able to sleep and be productive from home than be up half the night suffering and be a nervous wreck who is no good to anybody the next day.

    And when I do work from home, I bust my butt to make sure I get a ton of work done to make up for the fact that I’m not there.

    Just a different perspective on those people who don’t come in when everything is “fine.”

    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      It’s normal to be afraid of driving in snow. But your symptoms are extreme – if you’re not already seeing a doctor or therapist, I hope you do do.

      Reply
    2. Anonymous

      You should probably move. I know that’s annoying and expensive but if you really can’t stand snow you’ll spend half the year an anxious mess.

      Reply
      1. JamieG

        That’s not necessarily true. I live somewhere where it snows occasionally (I also hate driving in the snow, since I spent the vast majority of my life in a place with an average snowfall of 0), but it’s not like it snows literally every day for six months. I’m not sure where you’re even getting that from.

        Reply
        1. Anonymous

          If I lived somewhere where it snowed occasionally – perhaps five times a year – and that results in hysterical sobbing at 3am four times, I’d move.

          Hysterically sobbing in the middle of the night due to something that will happen a few times a year – move or get medical help.

          Reply
          1. Snowhater

            I don’t spend any time sobbing because of it, but I am extremely afraid of driving when there’s ice on the street. To the point where for three months a year I only take the train, which takes about half an hour longer each way. I once had an accident caused by ice that could have killed me.

            That said “you should probably move” is really not helpful. For me to move away far enough that dealing with snow would never be an issue I’d have to move to a completely different country (mid-Germany to at least Southern France, possibly Italy or Spain). No, not going to do that just because of snow. Even if it made me sob at 3 am five times a year.

            Driving safety training is something that helped me a lot.

            Reply
            1. KellyK

              Good point—expecting someone to completely uproot their life to avoid a phobia is totally unrealistic. If you have friends and family in the area, like your job, or even just really hate moving, all of that outweighs the occasional panic attack. (And for someone who has anxiety or phobias, it’s probably not possible to completely eliminate things that trigger those freak-outs—you can’t go through life in a bubble.)

              I don’t know where Anonymous lives, but in the US, there are few, if any, places you can go where it never ever snows. Even parts of Florida get a light dusting of snow on occasion (every couple/three years it looks like).

              Reply
    3. Mike C.

      There’s nothing wrong with working at home in any conditions, but if you can please get some help regarding your fears. You aren’t a bad or defective person for having these fears, but a professional would be able to help you with ways to deal with those fears in a constructive manner.

      And screw anyone who’s judging you.

      Reply
      1. KellyK

        Absolutely true. Way more people have phobias or anxiety issues or irrational hang-ups than you would realize. And there’s no shame it it—it’s like thinking you’re a bad person because you get the flu every year, or because you have asthma.

        Reply
        1. Jean

          >Way more people have phobias or anxiety issues or irrational >hang-ups than you would realize.
          + a gazillion!

          I’m afraid of driving on long, long bridges (> 1 mile long) over water. That’s afraid as in *petrified.* In other areas of life I’m your usual functional adult, but not here…fortunately I don’t live or play in areas that require travel on causeways.

          Reply
    4. Nina

      I absolutely hate driving in the snow, and avoid it whenever possible. That said, if the very thought of driving in the snow is causing this much anxiety for you, I agree with the other posters that you may want to talk to a professional about it. I’m not judging you, because I know from personal experience that anxiety and panic attacks are no laughing matter. But the time may come when you don’t have the option of staying home, and the last thing you want to do is get behind the wheel when you’re upset or anxious. Just a thought. :-)

      Reply
  8. Miss Betty

    We were fortunate two weeks ago because the partners decided on Sunday night (Jan. 5) to close the office the next day and made sure we all knew. They decided late Monday afternoon to keep the office closed on Tuesday. By Wednesday, everything was fine and businesses and schools were open. On Monday and Tuesday, most of the counties surrounding me had declared a state of emergency because of the extreme cold and the terrible driving conditions. I know that in the county where I live – and I think in the county where I work, as well – the police made it known that they would pull over anyone who didn’t need to be on the road and were assessing $500 fines.

    We’re also fortunate that my workplace policy is that if they choose to close the office we get paid. If we make that judgment call, we use PTO. I think that’s fair. I’m very happy with our weather policy! (And realize just how good we have it compared to a lot of places.)

    Reply
  9. Artemesia

    over 40 years ago I had a job in the Seattle area that required me to drive across the lake at the crack of dawn to get there — we were told we had to be at work and so I got up in the night, and made it in — it took 2 scary hours for the 15 minute commute in the snow but I made it. when I got there, they had changed their minds and so everyone who stayed home got a vacation day — I had run the risk and got nothing as well as endangering myself and my car and using my time slowly treading through snow.

    Reply
  10. Wilton Businessman

    The first time this situation came up at my new job before there was VPN access, I said to my boss “If I’m important enough that I have to be here regardless of the weather, I’m important enough for the company to pay for a hotel two blocks away for the night.”

    They paid, I was into work the next day at 8:00. I was the only one there.

    Reply
  11. Elizabeth West

    I’m so grateful I can work from home when the weather is bad or I’m not feeling very well. With snow, there’s usually enough advance warning here that I can prepare for that. My job can be done almost entirely by remote (except meetings, which we don’t really have in-person because our boss is remote), and the hour a week I have to cover the receptionist’s lunch.

    The 2007 ice storm started on Friday night and went through Sunday night. My ex-company was closed on Monday and they gave us a paid day off for that day, because no one could reasonably come in. Tuesday I had to use vacation time, because they were open, but I was at a motel 30 miles away trying to call them, and my boss wasn’t answering the phone! (I didn’t get in trouble, because I left messages).

    It was really nice of them to give us that Monday. Being trapped in your house with no light or heat for three days, then displacement for twelve days in the middle of winter, when the temp was 20 for a high and the sun didn’t come out for two weeks, SUCKED. That made it a little less painful.

    Reply
  12. Anonymous

    What I don’t like is when businesses or people don’t plan ahead for when something like this comes up. When the polar vortex hit here, everything was closed for 2 days, and then when everything did open back up, everyone was rushing to get/do things because they hadn’t planned ahead.

    Reply
  13. Carmen

    What is the best way to handle a snow day when you have a disability?

    My husband has a disability that affects his mobility. He uses crutches and has limited ability to walk more than 10 minutes. He uses our city’s paratransit system to get to and from work.

    Generally, individuals at his company do not work from home. Is it reasonable in cases of severe weather to request that he given appropriate access to do so? Could this be considered reasonable accommodation? He tries to always go in no matter what but some days present a legitimate safety issue. For instance, He fell twice yesterday due to the depth of snow when he got home.

    Reply
    1. KellyK

      That sounds perfectly reasonable to me. Has his company generally been understanding and willing to make accommodations for his disability? If they’ve been good about it so far, then I would just ask.

      I wouldn’t focus solely on working from home since that’s not the culture and that makes some bosses twitchy. Instead, I’d say something like, “Because of my mobility issues, there are days when the roads might be okay and it’s safe for most people to get to work, but it’s a major hazard for me. For example, on [such and such date], I fell twice because of the snow. Is there something we could work out so that I can avoid that?” And maybe throw out a couple suggestions—working from home, making up hours elsewhere in the pay period instead of taking a vacation day, etc.

      Reply
  14. Lisa

    What about working on a snow day (coming in or working from home), and still being forced to use a vacation day? Our office manager insists that even though we are working for the better part of the day that we are at less productivity and should use a vacation day.

    Reply

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