Employers Responsibility for Employees Commuting in Bad Weather – No

Employers should definitely not be responsible for accidents their employees are in during their commutes to work. Employees are not on the employer’s premises, engaged in activities for the employer or on the clock when they are commuting to and from work. Federal law requires workplace injuries as well as injuries obtained in the performance of job duties, including those incurred while off the work site premises, to be compensated. Individuals have car insurance for driving accidents, have other options for commuting, the option to not go to work, a choice in the type of vehicle they drive and a knowledge of how comfortable they are driving in hazardous conditions.

For those who choose to commute to their place of employment in their own privately owned vehicles, they have the right to buy insurance and also a legal obligation to have a certain amount of auto insurance. The purpose of workman’s compensation plans at work is to help to make the employee whole again financially if a work place injury occurs keeping the employee from returning to work and covers the workplace and injuries sustained in the course of carrying out one’s job duties off the premises, while using your privately owned vehicle to make a bank deposit for your boss when this is one of your job duties may fall under this category, commuting to and from work does not.  Why would one want it to? The current economic times have made gaining employment harder and harder, if employers were responsible for their employees getting injured during their commute, how far one lived from a potential job opening would definitely be playing a part in that company’s hiring decision.

When one chooses to work somewhere (they did make a choice even if they feel they had none, because they had a choice not to take the job even if it was an unattractive alternative) hopefully the commute was a consideration they factored in along with the climate in the region they live in. They probably considered mileage as a factor in how much they were willing or could afford to spend on gas as well as wear and tear on their vehicle. Not everyone drives their privately owned vehicle to work. Some people take the train or the subway, ride a bike or carpool. These are all also considerations to look at when one accepts a position. Hopefully when a person purchases a vehicle they take into consideration the type of weather conditions they may be driving in and what options (such as snow tires) that they may require to drive comfortably in unfavorable conditions.

Going to work by driving one’s vehicle in conditions in which a person is not comfortable with their skill level to drive is also a choice and needs to be acknowledged as a matter of personal choice. Chances are that if one is a skilled driver, has a properly maintained vehicle with the appropriate equipment for driving in snow, they will make it to work just fine if taking precautions  and following safe driving guidelines. Chances are also good that if the state patrol says that it is unsafe to drive and one chooses to call out of work until road conditions improve, they are probably not the only ones who are making such a call and if the company wants to fire people for refusing to come to work in hazardous conditions, it sounds like an environment in which there are multiple human resource issues and a lacking in management skills. One can also attempt to find out how many of their coworkers are going to report in and if someone that lives nearby wouldn’t mind giving them a ride for that day or possibly take an alternate form of transportation for the day.

One final note here is that if one is always noticing he or she wants to call out every time it snows, maybe he or she should consider updating their driving skills or definitely planning alternate transportation, most employers would be reasonably accommodating when other coworkers are calling out but when it is always the same person and everyone else manages to come in, well maybe the employer is not the one being unreasonable.

 Employers have workman’s compensation plans to cover workplace injuries and people who own vehicles are required by law to carry auto insurance. Along with this, employees need to be responsible and accountable for their own decisions. Even in the best circumstances accidents do happen, but one’s employer should not be responsible for the decisions one makes about their commute or one could find that their employer will also be making their commuting decisions for them.