The weather in the Midwest and parts of Canada has been absurdly low and dangerous. Even the post office ("Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night..") canceled delivery in some places because it was so cold.
And while I'm all warm and snuggly in my home (yay for working from home!) and my town is at a balmy 40, I opened my email this morning to find this email:
My son was fired for not coming into work on a weather advisory where the weather was -20 the town was advised not to be outside. He catches the bus to work. He called his job and informed them he had no way to work. To make matters worst the expressway was closed [which is] the only route to his job had he had a vehicle. After calling work his was told he would receive a call from his supervisor. They didn't call until the next day and told him not to come to work anymore.
Then I went over to twitter and found this tweet from Tim Sackett.
911 - what's your emergency?-; Tim Sackett SCP,SPHR (@TimSackett) January 29, 2019
Me - I had an employee ask if they had to come to work at their inside desk job because it's too cold outside.
911 - ...
Me: And I'm now feeling like I might harm them.
Now, to be fair, I think Tim is joking. Or maybe he's in Florida. I'm not sure. He's generally a good guy with lots of HR skill. But, not wanting--or not being able--to come in when it's so bitter cold is not the sign of a bad employee.
I promise you that if an employee asks to stay home due to the extreme cold, but are otherwise a good employee, they do not deserve to be fired. If they ask to stay home, and are otherwise a terrible employee, you should fire/discipline for those things--not for the terrible weather.
It may be easy for you to get to work. If you have a car that lives in a garage, no problem. If you have a car that sits in the parking lot or on the street it may not start. (I used to live in Northern MN, and we plugged our car in at night, otherwise, it wouldn't start in the morning.)
If you have kids in school, and their school closed because of the weather, it may be difficult to get to work even if you don't have transportation issues. If the roads have been closed down, that's another problem.
Of course, there are some jobs that have to be done no matter what--doctors, nurses, cafeteria staff, and cleaners need to show up at the hospital. No doubt. But, otherwise, if the employee is a good employee this is not a sign of unreliability of bad performance. Don't punish people for bad weather.