On August 21st, 2017, the entire US will experience a solar eclipse. Some areas of the country will be able to view a full eclipse as some states will fall in its path of totality – the last time a total solar eclipse was visible across the continental United States was in 1918.
This eclipse serves as a good reminder for both employers and employees to review time off policies and practices concerning special events – anything from a solar eclipse to a major sporting or community event. Employers will want to make sure they consider how time off requests will honored if many employees are requesting a day or even a partial day off. Will the special event bring visitors to your community, resulting in an influx of business for your company? If too many employees are requesting time off, this could create undue hardship to your business. As the HR Exchange Network states, “all requests should be evaluated fairly, consistent with the employer’s policies and normal practices, which could be supplemented by a reward system or lottery system where requests are too overwhelming.” Employers will want to make sure they are not playing favorites or discriminating as some religions and cultures find significance in a solar eclipse. Not being able to attend work to participate in a religious activity revolving around the eclipse could be protected by Title VII (See the EEOC’s website for more information about Title VII and discrimination – www.eeoc.gov).
As with any special event, if a decline in productivity will not affect your business, encourage employees to have a little fun! Schedule a watch party – whether it’s a few minutes to safely watch the eclipse or an afternoon at the ballpark cheering on your local baseball team competing for the championship title – employees will welcome the team building activity! Scheduling an eclipse watch party? Feel free to share your ideas with us!