Best Practices for Business: Business Closing for Weather

Extreme weather conditions can prevent employees and customers from safely traveling to your business. Learn what your business should do when there are inclement weather conditions.


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An intro: business closing for weather

Inclement weather such as rain, hail, snow, cold, high winds, severe dust storms and extreme high temperatures can make it difficult or even treacherous for employees to work. Businesses need to establish policies and procedures to ensure safety while keeping productive.


What to do in cases of inclement weather

Prepare for an extreme weather event and keep everyone safe:

  • Establish policies and procedures for inclement weather
  • Learn about your obligations to employees
  • Determine when you should close
  • Designate a safe space and point persons
  • Offer remote days
  • Draft a communication plan


Establish policies and procedures for inclement weather

List possible inclement weather conditions for your area and what to do in each situation. Create plans for expected and unexpected situations. Outline protocols in your employee handbook. In some cases, you may still need to pay employees, even if your business must close due to weather. Determine the best policies and procedures for your business and the safety of your employees.


Learn about your obligations to employees

If your employees experience hardship due to bad weather, you may have certain obligations to ensure their livelihood. Employers may need to make allowances for employees who have lost their homes or means of transportation due to weather events. That may mean extending paid time off or finding ways employees can make up work.

If your business is located in areas with extreme weather conditions, learn about safety measures, equipment and clothing for employees who work outside. Always put safety first.


Determine when you should close

Decide which weather conditions are too extreme for your business to operate and which will allow for partial days. For example, if it snowed the night before, you may allow employees to come to work late. You could also give employees the option to leave work early if bad weather’s predicted for rush hours.

If you are a business that depends on foot traffic, determine the likelihood of business during inclement weather and determine whether or not it’s cost-effective to open.


Designated a safe space and point persons

If inclement weather or a natural disaster hits during the workday, designate a safe space. Post signs that outline the protocol, so people less familiar with it and customers will know where to go and what to do. Train two or three employees in the protocol and ensure everyone knows they are the point persons for emergencies.


Offer remote days

If employees are able to work from portable computers, offer remote working on inclement days. This will keep everyone productive and safe.

Read more: 11 Tips to Effectively Manage Remote Employees


Draft a communication plan

Determine the best method for informing employees of closures during inclement weather. Draft an undated announcement ahead of time in case it must go out the night before. Let employees know where they should check for updates and be consistent. Try to let employees know as early as possible, so they don’t start their commute in harsh conditions.

Likewise, let your customers know about your business closure in advance. Depending on the size of your business, contact your local news station, send out a newsletter, post an announcement on your company’s social media accounts and include in on your company’s website.


Weather closing FAQs

Before closing your business for bad weather, consider how the weather conditions will impact your community. Here are some frequently asked questions to help you with your decision:


What factors should I consider before closing my business for inclement weather?

Determine the safety of employees and customers traveling to your business. Have your HR department or managers send out reminders that ensure safety and wellbeing. For example, during extreme heat advisories, remind employees to hydrate regularly.
Consider the nature of the work you do. If most employees can do their work remotely, make that an option. If remote work isn’t an option, decide whether or not you’re obligated to pay employees when you need to cease business due to weather conditions.


What are some examples of inclement weather?

Inclement weather conditions include rain, hail, snow, cold, high winds, severe dust storms and extreme high temperatures. Generally, with regard to employers, the term refers to unsafe or unreasonable conditions for employees to work in. Inclement weather can also impact the commute of employees and customers, and business owners are advised to take this into consideration.

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