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Employee Rights on Refusing to Drive a Car in Inclement Weather

急速PC28彩票The last thing your employee may want to do during inclement weather is to get on the road, even when driving is part of his job description. The question then becomes whether or not you have the right to insist an employee drive after he has expressed concerns regarding his personal safety. The challenge in finding a definitive answer is that one group of employees enjoys a right to refuse, while all others work under a cloudier set of guidelines.

Occupational Health & Safety Administration Rules

急速PC28彩票The Occupational Health & Safety Administration states that a motor carrier employee cannot be fired, disciplined or discriminated against for refusing to drive when that employee has a fear or serious injury based upon conditions that she considers to be hazardous. Each state has its own definition of what it considers to be a motor carrier, but generally, motor carrier drivers are those who operate any vehicle designed to transport passengers, a vehicle used to transport hazardous materials or a vehicle that transports cargo for business purposes. The gray area arises when one questions if the same OSHA protection that applies to motor carrier employees extends to workers in other fields.

National Labor Relations Act Rules

The National Labor Relations Act states that employers cannot retaliate against workers who refuse to work due to unsafe work conditions. However, three criteria must be met. Workers must act in good faith, honestly believing that it would be dangerous to drive under current conditions, and the refusal must involve more than one worker. Finally, the refusal to drive cannot be part of a work stoppage designed to get around a "no strike" clause in a union contract. In spite of these clarifications, there is no clear answer for a small business with a single driver.

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Muddied Waters from the Department of Labor

急速PC28彩票The issue becomes muddied by the fact that the U.S. Department of Labor has come down on both sides of the issue, agreeing with an employer's right to fire an employee for refusing to drive, but also on the side of drivers who legitimately had weather-related safety concerns. When the decision comes down on the side of the employee he is entitled to his job back, legal fees and back pay.

Limitations for Commuting

One clear area involves commuting. Unless an employer agrees the weather is too bad for employees to attempt the drive, an employee can be fired for not finding a way to make it into the workplace.

Employer Precautions for Safety

The Occupational Health & Safety Administration recommends that employers take precautions designed to make employee drivers feel safe. These include providing vehicles with regular safety checks and setting up a safe driving program. You should also equip vehicles with emergency supplies such as a snow scraper, flares, first aid kit, flash light, bag of sand, small shovel, blanket and booster cables. Post the number the employee should call in case of emergency in clear view inside the car.

Preemptive Problem Solving

急速PC28彩票One way a small business can keep the issue from mushrooming is to have an established policy concerning weather-related driving concerns that becomes part of an employee handbook. If the success of your business is dependent upon deliveries being made or other tasks that involve driving, determine at what point no one will be expected to venture onto the roads. If driving-related tasks can be postponed to another time, push them back until driving conditions are safer.

References

About the Author

Dana Sparks has been a professional writer since 1990. As a staff reporter, she has written hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles, and she is also the author of two published novels. Sparks holds a Bachelor of Arts in business.

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