Texas, and other southern states, are experiencing a rare event: below-freezing weather and snow. It's so cold in Texas that wind turbines froze, causing rolling blackouts for 3.8 million people. Yet, a small retail store owner sent out the following message to his employees:
Just to be clear with everyone. Cold weather is not an excusable reason to not come to work. If you don't show for your shift and you didn't find coverage...it's considered job abandonment. I do not have sympathy for a little snow and cold. Half the nation lives in this weather for 4 months every year. [Ellipses in the original.]
This is precisely how you find yourself with no employees and a failing business. And, while he's right that many, many people deal with cold and snow and ice every winter, it's not the same as it is in Texas.
I've lived in Rochester, New York, and Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. Do you know what they get? Snow and lots of it. Do you know how people react? With snow shovels and a yawn. It's part of life. But, their power lines are prepared for cold weather. Their cities have sufficient snow plows and salt to clear the streets. Everyone learned how to drive in the snow at 16. Snow is fine.
Snow in Texas is not fine. The cities don't have the equipment to clear the streets and make it safe for people to drive. Few people have extensive snow driving experience and those who often haven't practiced that skill for years. It's not safe.
Doctors, nurses, police officers, and other truly essential workers need to be to work. But otherwise, if it's not safe for your employees to drive, don't force them.
Plus, it makes for bad business. You have to pay your hourly employees for every hour they work--whether or not customers come in. But, you don't have to pay them if they don't work. Why pay someone their hourly wage to bring in $3.96 in business from the random customer who lacks sense?
You don't want to be the employer that makes demands like this. If it's not safe, tell your employees to take all precautions necessary to stay safe. If your employees truly are essential (such as hospital employees), understand their difficulty getting to and from. It's not safe even if you're a nurse.
But, everyone who can stay home, should stay home. And that means bosses should send out messages that say, "Stay home. Keep warm," and not "come in, or we'll consider it job abandonment."