BPHR’s Director Lisa Salcido, SPHR, SHRM-SCP provides answers to your pressing HR questions.
Question: Thank you for the guidelines for snow day pay. My business depends on our delivery drivers and some refuse to drive in certain weather conditions. What are the laws in these situations?
Answer: There are many regulations to consider for the safety of your drivers and vehicles as well as company liability. Commercial drivers are protected under federal and state law. The Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) sets safety standards and provides job protection for employees who refuse to drive in reasonably unsafe conditions. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) prevents retaliation against employees who in good faith collectively refuse to drive. The Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA) protects safety complainants and whistleblowers. While traveling on public highways, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has jurisdiction and the enforcement of some OSHA regulations is preempted.
There are some gray areas across these regulations and court decisions have been conflicting, sometimes siding with the employer and sometimes with the employee, without setting a clear precedent. To assist in interpreting the regulations for your exact situation, the New Jersey OSHA division offers a free consultation service for employers that need help with complying and ensuring a safe workplace.
Also, your employee handbook should have a clear policy on expectations during inclement weather and instructions in the event of an accident or emergency. Vehicles should be equipped with safety supplies and dispatcher phone numbers should be clearly posted. It is also the employer’s responsibility to maintain the safety of vehicles and provide training for bad weather vehicle handling. Check with your vehicle insurance and workers’ compensation carriers as they may also have guidelines.
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DISCLAIMER: The material presented on this page is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or legal opinion.