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Employers Need to Prepare For the Eclipse

August 11th, 2017

NASA eclipse mapOn August 21 the first solar eclipse in the U.S. since 1979 will occur. It will be visible throughout the contiguous 48 states, part of Mexico and much of Canada. However the path of totality, where the moon will entirely cover the face of the sun, will be only about 70 miles wide, stretching from Oregon to South Carolina.

As exciting as the eclipse will be -- millions of eclipse watchers are expected along the path of totality -- it can cause headaches for employers. Unscheduled absences, a rush of vacation day requests, possible religious accommodation, even workers comp claims may be part of the mix, says employment lawyer Shirley O. Lerner, of the Littler Mendelson firm.

Writing on the HR site, TLNT.com, Lerner says "Employers should prepare for prospective workplace disruptions, particularly if they operate in or near the path of totality."

She raises a number of possible occurrences that may not be obvious, for example employers in the totality path might prepare for traffic congestion preventing workers from arriving on time. Or, worker comp claims from those injured by looking directly into the sun.

Some of the issues -- multiple day off requests -- are predictable. Others, like a possible request to be off on August 21 for religious reasons, may not be. Yet, as Lerner says, it's only wise to be prepared.

Tags: legal

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