Employers mull storm effects

Potentially icy roads could wreak havoc on workday

December 11, 2007


Cottonwood calls off work today

The threat of the ice storm was enough to call off work for many employees at Lawrence-based Cottonwood Incorporated. Enlarge video

On the street

Will you call into work because of inclement weather?

It has to get awfully bad for me to say I’m not going to come in.

More responses

Whether workers in Douglas County awaken this morning to grapple with the effects of a fierce ice storm or simply a case of mildly frustrating frigid temperatures, the folks at Cottonwood Inc. already know their workday fate.

They're off. Unless they're not.

Cottonwood took the unusual step of meeting Monday morning to cancel today's work activities. That means most of the company's 250 employees will have a paid day off, rather than be required to brave potentially risky roads on the way to the employment center at 2801 W. 31st St.

Then again, some 75 employees - workers who help Cottonwood consumers live in group or individual homes or apartments - have been lined up to work anyway, regardless of the weather.

"It's good that people are living in homes throughout the community, but it takes a lot of work to make sure we're supporting them," said Sharon Spratt, executive director of Cottonwood, which serves people with disabilities. "We want to make sure we look at the safety issues first - for staff and the people we support."

Employers in Lawrence were wrestling with such issues Monday, as forecasters were predicting a major ice storm that could snarl traffic, complicate sidewalk-clearing efforts and perhaps knock out power.

At Kansas University, 5,900 of the school's 9,600 employees were expected to seek out word from university officials this morning about whether they'd need to report for work.

There are a variety of scenarios that could be invoked, depending on the severity of any storm that might develop, said Todd Cohen, a KU spokesman.

"It could be you just go back to bed," he said. "It could be you're to come in two hours late. It could be you're an emergency employee and you have to work anyway.

"If you're facilities operations, you most likely have to go to work. If you're a shift employee, you have to check in and find out. But hopefully it misses us completely, and we'll have final exams."

While employees may have gone to sleep Monday night unaware of the storm's ultimate effects, there was one certainty for KU employees as of Monday afternoon, Cohen said. And, perhaps, it's something for others throughout the area to consider, had they not already settled on a work day approach for today.

"You can't just flip a coin in the morning to decide whether you're going to work or not," Cohen said. "You need to talk to your supervisor."


notobsessed 10 years, 6 months ago

Love the last statements: "You can't just flip a coin in the morning to decide whether you're going to work or not. You need to talk to your supervidsor." Ha! That's what my employee did on Monday morning and it wasn't even bad weather! Good advice for every morning!

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