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Absenteeism Concerns High During Winter Season

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in Human Resources

Check out these attendance issues related to the winter season. Then, make sure your organization is prepared for handling absenteeism due to the employee whose car gets stuck in a snow drift; the employee whose wife got the flu from a co-worker and now he also has it; the employee whose child is home from school because it’s a snow day.

States of emergency: During a major snowstorm, state government might declare a state of emergency and impose certain restrictions on travel. If travel is outright prohibited, you should not penalize employees for being absent.

However, travel is not always prohibited and employers are not always ordered to tell their employees to stay home. In those cases, you may penalize an employee for attendance policy violations.

If your company is forced to close, you have a pay dilemma on your hands. Non-exempt employees must be paid only for the hours actually worked. Consider, however, that through no fault of their own, those employees can’t work. So, instead of not paying them for the day, you could allow them to use vacation or other accrued, paid time.

As for exempt employees, the general rule is that they must receive their full salaries in any week they do work. However, you can require them to use accrued paid time.

The flu bug strikes: According to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., the flu season could cost employers $10 billion in paid sick time alone. That figure does not account for other problems, such as interruptions to workflow, decreased productivity, and missed deadlines.

Your company is stuck between a rock and a hard place: You don't want employees to be absent just because they have a runny nose, but you don’t want them showing up and getting everyone else sick, either.

To solve that dilemma, plan to allow employees to work from home in times of illness (or dangerous weather conditions). Then, they may return to work when a health practitioner gives them the OK or when they are feeling remarkably better (or when they can finally dig their cars out of the driveway).

Yay! Snow day!: When school is closed, but work is not, employees with school-age children often run into problems. They may not have a babysitter or have no accrued time off left in the bank.

Consider accommodating employee-parents in these situations by offering flexible scheduling. Allow them to arrive late and/or leave early to get the child to/from a childcare arrangement. If an employee is concerned about not being paid, see if allowing him/her to work from home is an option. If not, give the employee the chance to make up the lost work time during the other days of the week.

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