HomeSmall Business InsuranceWinter Preparedness: A Guide for Insurance Agents to Help Small Business Clients 

Winter Preparedness: A Guide for Insurance Agents to Help Small Business Clients 

Helping your small business clients navigate the challenges of winter weather is crucial for their safety and continuing and maintaining operations. While winter preaparedness focus is often on staying open for business, it’s equally important to consider employee safety. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help your clients prepare and address the impact of winter weather on their business. 

Navigating Employee Pay 

Winter weather can lead to business closures or hinder employees from reaching work. Help your clients address pay-related issues: 

  • Non-Exempt Employees: For hourly employees, payment is only required for the hours worked. If the business opens late, closes early, or remains closed, payment is only necessary for actual work hours. 
  • Exempt Employees: Salaried employees must be paid for a full day if they work any part of it. If the business is closed for less than a full week, exempt employees need to receive their normal salary if they worked any part of that week. 
  • Business Closure for a Week: If the business is closed for an entire week, payment is not required for any employees. 
  • Paid Time Off: Clients may require employees to use available paid time off or vacation time for missed days. If an exempt employee can’t come in due to weather conditions and the business remains open, it is considered a personal reason, and payment is not required. 
  • Telecommuting Options: To mitigate productivity loss, suggest options like telecommuting for exempt employees during weather-related disruptions. 

The information provided about employee pay considerations during winter weather is a general guideline and may not be universally applicable to all states. Employment laws can vary significantly from state to state, and additional factors, such as collective bargaining agreements or individual employment contracts, may influence the application of these policies. 

Be Prepared 

Assist your clients in establishing comprehensive policies and procedures for inclement weather: 

  • Communication Channels: Ensure your clients have effective communication methods to inform employees of business closures or delays. 
  • Policy Reminder: Regularly remind employees of company policies related to safety, attendance, and pay during inclement weather. 
  • Planning for the Worst: Encourage your clients to plan for the worst-case scenario and address potential outcomes to ensure their company is well-prepared for winter weather. 

Driving on Company Time 

One major concern with winter preparedness is employees who drive as part of their workday. To mitigate risks: 

  • Vehicle Safety Check: Advise your clients to ensure all company vehicles undergo a safety check by a mechanic before winter weather hits. Equip vehicles with emergency materials such as a snow scraper, blanket, first aid kit, and flashlight. 
  • Employee Dress Code: Instruct employees to dress appropriately for winter conditions, including hats, scarves, and gloves. Encourage them to keep extra clothing on hand in case of breakdowns or accidents. 
  • Safe Driving Training: To protect against liability, emphasize the importance of training employees in safe and cautious driving techniques during bad weather. Extend this training to those who commute as part of their job. 

By providing guidance on these aspects, you can empower your small business clients to proactively manage winter weather challenges, enhance employee safety, and maintain operational resilience. Reach out to your clients today to make sure they have a winter weather plan in place.