Is your practice in an area that regularly experiences inclement weather? Even if it’s not, all businesses with employees should have a policy dedicated to weather conditions. You never know when a freak snowstorm or unexpected wildfire will close your office. Like any policy, having a written plan in place will help you and your employees react swiftly to a bad weather situation.
First and foremost, gather your leadership and develop an inclement weather policy. Think about the possible scenarios that could affect your practice and the surrounding area where your employees live (e.g., snow, floods, earthquakes, fires, etc.). How could these scenarios affect the ability to come into the office or even work remotely? Below are some other policy details to consider.
Second, think about the ability to work remotely. Obviously in a disaster situation, employees will most likely not work at all. However, physicians and nurse practitioners could do virtual visits and administrative staff could log into computer systems with a secure connection if a few feet of snow is keeping everyone at home.
The law states that hourly employees must be paid for any hours they work versus a salaried employee who must be paid for the entire day. In the event your practice is open and then closes part way through the day, you must abide by these compensation rules. This is another great reason to explore working remotely for your salaried employees.
If bad weather arrives before your office opens or employees are scheduled to work, you should have a notification system that goes both ways in place. Leadership in your office should have a clear path for notifying employees of whether the office is closed or open and road conditions surrounding the office. Will you text everyone? Email them? You should also communicate to employees how they can best contact you if they cannot get to the office because bad weather near their homes. Should your employee call their supervisor? Text? Email? There should also be a notification system for your patients to let them know the office is closed.
Lastly, how will your practice monitor safety and prevent safety problems at your office? Stopping employees and patients from coming to the office if it’s not safe should be a top priority that a notification system can help with. If the office is open but weather is making the area tricky to navigate, how will you let employees and patients know? Signs? Your notification system? Also, think about supplies you will need to have on hand for weather issues such as salt for icy sidewalks and parking lots.