Fog Creek to give workers paid 'climate leave' during severe weather
- Fog Creek, a Manhattan-based software firm, will introduce paid time off for employees to use during hurricanes, tornadoes and other disastrous weather and environmental conditions, according to a company post on LinkedIn. The goal, per CEO Anil Dash, is to support employees when they need help the most; the company blames climate change for extreme and frequent natural disasters that can disrupt workers' lives.
- Dash said the decision to offer employees paid time off, or climate leave, stems from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in 2012. During the storm, the company's data center lost power and went down. To keep the lights on and its customers serviced, a team of employees carried a generator up 18 stories.
- Under a written policy, workers affected by weather extremes get time off with pay to take care of personal responsibilities away from the office. Workers may take up to five days of climate leave. Time off in excess of five days requires a declaration of emergency based on a determination by regional officials.
Allowing climate leave could prevent situations like that encountered by Pizza Hut, in which a manager demanded that employees come to work as Hurricane Irma made landfall. TJX Cos. and Starbucks took the opposite position, allowing employees who couldn't get to work to remain at home or evacuate. They also paid employees while they were out and when stores were temporarily closed.
Employers might be reluctant to offer a paid time off policy phrased explicitly as "climate leave," but what Fog Creek has outlined is not terribly different from what other employers have done. Any policy or practice that keeps workers safe and allows them time to attend to personal affairs shows employers' humanity and empathy — which, business case aside, are desirable for their own sake.
Along with paid time off policies for extreme weather conditions, employers must have a disaster-preparedness plan aimed at protecting the workplace before a disaster hits.