Extenuating Catastrophic Personal Circumstances

Our current policy states that personal leaves are approved only when extenuating catastrophic personal circumstances exist.

We currently have employees who feel that if their power goes off and the garage door does not open therefore, they are late to work this should be considered a catastrophic event and should not receive a tardy. How should we define extenuating catastrophic personal circumstances?


  • 7 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • We grant personal leave's of absence when the ee will be absent at least 5 days or more. We have granted it for medical reasons not covered by FMLA and severe personal issues. We were hit by a significant flood this summer and a few ee's needed time to clean up, file insurance claims, find new housing, and generally recover from devastating losses - they were given leaves of absence.

    We do not grant it for frivolous reasons. For the example you site I would require the ee to use paid time off.
  • I would get out my dictionary and help the employee find the word "catastrophic" so they have a better understanding of your policy and what it means. A personal inconvenience is certainly not the same thing.

    What types of things have you had come up before where you granted this kind of leave? Perhaps I am the one misinterpreting the word catastrophic.

  • Electric garage doors very commonly have a by-pass that will permit the door to be raised manually. Typically, the by-pass will disonnect the electric motor from the door. Thus, you need not both open the door and turn the gears of the motor.

    There are also a good many small generators on the market that will easily power a garage door.

    Absent the garage door excuse, if power is out, it may well be impossible for employees to take a shower or see to comb their hair. After all, they certainly could not come to work dirty and messy.

    Anyway, to me, a person who gets in a wreck on the way to work and must be transported by ambulance for medical treatment has had a catastrophic personal circumstance.
  • You'll have to define it in such a way that it explains what you mean to include in your policy, which is something that you'll have to decide (I know that sounds like a cop-out answer, but it's true. :-) ). Though you could include a clarifying provision that went something like, "events such as power outages, traffic delays and bad hair days are not considered extenuating personal circumstances warranting a personal leave of absence."

    Silly as it may sound, you may also want to define "personal leave." In common usage, taking a day (or an hour) off of work does not constitute a leave of absence. So you may wish to consider including in your policy that leaves of absence are approved only when extenuating circumstances exist that require an employee to miss work for x days or more, or that leaves will not be granted for partial days or to excuse tardiness (I understand the desire not to penalize the employee who is late due to a car accident or family emergency, but such instances hopefully are rare enough that it's not a major issue, and the "personal leave" policy may not be the best place to deal with such potentialities).
  • I am sure the door had a manual by pass, but maybe the employee didn't know it. However, did they bother to pick up the phone and call anyone.
    Also, is this the first time this person has been late?
    I wouldn't call this catastrophic.
    E Wart
  • I would have them use leave from their leave bank. If they have no leave in their leave bank and are non-exempt, then they would be without pay for the time missed.

  • In our office they would use their accrued time. If they had no accrued time they have the option to make up the hourse during the balance of the week and if not then they would go unpaid if an hourly ee. If a salaried ee and they had accrued leave time they would use that.
Sign In or Register to comment.