Winter months are just around the corner and with them comes colder weather. We don't get as much "white stuff" as our Northern Brethren but when we do things get messy. Be reminded that employee injuries on employer owned and maintained parking lots may be covered by workers' compensation and my be OSHA recordable depending upon circumstances relating to the injury. If injuries occur at a reasonable time (just prior to or just after work) and injuries result in medical treatment, days away from work or restricted activity, both workers' comp and OSHA record keeping come into play.
Winter weather poses a particular problem regarding parking lot and sidewalk injuries. Both should be maintained free of snow and ice to prevent employee injuries. Potential costly injures to customers, vendors and to the general public would not be covered by workers' compensation but by an employer's liability insurance.
Employers also need to be aware of the dangers of overexertion in winter months. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company conducted a study a few years ago revealing that more than 25% of disabling workplace injuries resulted from overexertion. Overexertion also poses a major threat to ones' health and life outside of work, especially in geographical areas that experience extreme snow and ice accumulation like the Northeast this past winter. Around 100 people die in the US every winter as a result of shoveling snow. For suggestions on preventing serious injury or death from shoveling snow, click here. For more tips dealing with colder weather go to http://m.fema.gov/during-weather-storms-extreme-cold.
Perhaps a more vexing issue we deal with each year surrounds pay practices during inclement weather. Exempt employees are paid on a salaried basis. If the company is closed, the exempt employee must be paid for the day(s) to maintain the exemption status. It is the company’s decision as to whether or not exempts are required to take a vacation day. Keep in mind that if the exempt does not have vacation or PTO to cover the absence, the exempt must be paid.
If the office is open and the exempt decides not to report to work, the day can be charged to vacation or PTO. If in this situation the exempt does not have vacation or PTO, the company is allowed to dock for the day due to personal reasons. This is one of the allowed deductions under the FLSA without destroying the exemption status. Be reminded, however, that if the exempt works any part of the day, the exempt must be paid for the entire day. This often comes in to play when the exempt does not come into work but works a partial day from a laptop or other electronic device. For CAI survey data on office closings click here.
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