by Anne Zachritz

The much anticipated total solar eclipse is August 21st, just one week from today. Although Oklahoma is not in the path of totality, the sun will be approximately 84% eclipsed in Oklahoma City. Employers can anticipate that many employees will want to go outside to view the eclipse, while some employees may request to take paid time off (PTO) - or call in sick – in order to travel to states which are in the path of totality, or simply to attend eclipse parties.

Employers should handle PTO requests to view the eclipse in accordance with their policies and regular practices, but you should be cautious in granting some employees’ requests for PTO to view the eclipse, yet denying other employees’ requests. Doing so could lead to claims of discrimination or retaliation. Similarly, employers should treat employees who call in sick on August 21st in the same manner in which you treat any other unplanned absences or abuse of leave policies.

Especially if you allow employees to watch March Madness or bowl games on their computers, I would be hesitant to disallow employees from watching the solar eclipse on their computers or from stepping outside to view the eclipse, if for no other reason than it likely would be a drag on employee morale. Rather, just plan on little productivity on August 21st!

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