General Topics
Inclement Weather Policy

How Supervisors Should Talk Up Yale's Inclement Weather Policy

Each year Yale’s HR Generalists entertain questions like these about the University’s Inclement Weather Policy (find the policy at

--Does Yale ever close because of a snowstorm?
--Am I “essential” or “non-essential” personnel?
--What “reasonable” amount of time am I granted to get in to work when the weather makes traveling difficult?
--When does Yale pay for time out due to inclement weather and when do I have to make use of my personal or vacation time?

One very sound way for supervisors to address these practices and policies before they become a burden within their departments is to have conversations with their staff. Some supervisors call it a staff meeting, some call it 3:00 Tea Time, and others just call it. But, whatever you do, as a manager or supervisor, get the facts straight and get the information out to all of your staff. Managers and supervisors are responsible for defining the staffing needs of their units. To this end, all employees must hear the same official message:

When inclement weather causes problems in attendance the following practices
apply here:

A. We are all expected to arrive at work on time and to make arrangements to come to work when weather creates obstacles.

B. When schools close due to foul weather, we are expected to have a backup plan to address our needs, transportation changes (train, carpool, or bus when driving is not advisable), snow shoveling responsibilities (not coming in is not an acceptable backup plan.)

C. When staff members know in advance how foul weather will impact the attendance of the unit, they can readily adapt to the uneven participation when necessary. It is critical for the manager to identify who in the unit must come in or stay at work, and who may leave due to the foul weather.

D. When departments are informed that the University is invoking the Inclement Weather Policy, it is at this time that all employees who are not performing essential functions are encouraged to leave and will not be required to use paid time off. When employees do not come to work or leave before any announcement is made, the use of available personal or vacation time is required for the entire absence.

Once Yale staff members know the University’s inclement weather procedures, they will be able to apply them in situations that are not always clear. Managers can make determinations on how to staff projects that are essential to clinical care, continuing research, animal care, student support and more. Very few staff members are unaffected by inclement weather. Many must redirect the children; plow out of the driveway; brave the roads; take the bus or carpool. So, if they know in advance what they need to do to get to work in a “reasonable” amount of time, fewer issues will arise.

As to what is “reasonable,” this is something managers and staff members need to agree on. Check with your HR Generalist ( for assistance on how to define “reasonable” within your department. The needs of a unit of 10 people in a business office can be very different from the needs of one or two employees manning a clinic.