Public Workers & Snow Days

by Melissa Brunner

Judging by the comments on our web channel, the question of government offices declaring snow days ignites a hot debate on a cold day.

The impetus for the latest round was Gov. Sam Brownback's decision to close state offices in Topeka and Shawnee County Tuesday due to the weather. However, most Shawnee County offices and City of Topeka offices remained open for business as usual, with employees expected to report. The decisions came even as all area schools and a host of area businesses closed their doors for the day. (As I'm typing this, I received a notice that city offices will close at 3 pm due to deteriorating conditions.)

I can see various sides to this debate. On the one hand, our tax dollars pay the salaries of public workers, so I don't want to pay someone for staying home. You could NOT pay them for the day, but that hardly seems fair, either, since they don't control Mother Nature. Then again, retail store workers probably won't be paid for the hours they miss because the business closed. The offices stay open because they provide a public service and someone might be counting on visiting a certain office today. However, if you're telling the public to stay off the roads because it's too dangerous, you're staffing offices that you really don't want people to be visiting anyway - not to mention you're saying it's okay for your workers to be out, but too dangerous for everyone else. Then there are the jokes that stem from the declaration of "essential" versus "non-essential" employees reporting for duty.

What do you think? Close them or keep them open?


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