August 21 Solar Eclipse and How it May Affect Your Workplace

If you haven’t already been bombarded with news of the upcoming August 21 solar eclipse—which will be a partial eclipse in New England (about 60%) and a total eclipse for people living in a narrow cross-country band from Oregon to the Carolinas—the Moon will soon be in the Sun’s house but we don’t know if Jupiter will align with Mars.


Employers may also be faced with another kind eclipse on Monday, with employees blocking all the light from their windows as they look out to observe this phenomenon. Strange and wondrous occurrences like this do affect the workplace, creating staffing and safety issues. Here are a few things for employers to consider as we await the eclipse.

  • Be prepared for more employee requests for time off. The eclipse will occur on a Monday, which is a workday for many people so be prepared for employee requests for the day off, possible no call/no shows, and even requests for brief periods of non-work time to view the eclipse. Ensure employees know that your normal absence and time off request and reporting procedures apply. If you want employees to view the eclipse, consider how best to staff, including allowing employees brief paid breaks and taking turns. For your non-exempt staff, breaks of 20 minutes or less should be paid. In addition, fairness and consistency are important practices in allowing time off.
  • Be prepared for possible religious accommodations such as a request for time off due to religious beliefs. Title VII and some state laws require accommodating employees for religious beliefs, including time off. Religion is defined broadly under Title VII and employee requests for accommodation to attend religious services or engage in religious activities must be accommodated unless the employer can show undue hardship. Employers should pay attention to whether requests for time off are based on religious reasons.
  • Depending on your business, you may also have a need to increase staff—especially if you are in the business of selling solar-related equipment or are somehow promoting the event, such as an eating or drinking establishment.
  • If you have drivers, think about the impact on the roadways and safety issues, including possible accidents due to distracted drivers (including your employees). Consider scheduling around the time when the eclipse will occur or having employees pull off the road during peak periods.
  • Educate employees on the hazards around viewing the eclipse. To protect employees, especially those who work outdoors, give direction on safety practices including making them aware that looking at the sun during the eclipse, even with regular sunglasses, can cause eye injuries. Discuss with employees or consider offering safe options such as using special solar filters or a pinhole viewer.

Having a plan to handle these staffing and safety issues will help employers and employees be more prepared for this special event. For more information on the eclipse see the NASA total eclipse website, which will include live coverage and information on safe viewing practices, weather, and traffic issues.

NASA Eclipse Info

For More Information

Have questions on this or other employment-related issues? Contact KMA today.




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KMA Welcomes Team Member Cathy Nugent


Cathy Nugent has more than 15 years of experience as a Human Resources professional, helping to build relationships between people and organizations, as well as building pipelines for new talent while developing current talent. Areas of focus include talent acquisition and recruiting, employee relations, and career counseling.

Prior to joining KMA, Cathy was . . . Read More → KMA Welcomes Team Member Cathy Nugent

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While every company has a story that evolves over time, there is only one beginning to each of those stories. KMA’s started with the belief that as the owner, I would build my life around my top priorities. Having the flexibility to make important choices was essential. So in April of . . . Read More → KMA: Grateful for 10 Wonderful Years!

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“Handling conflict in a public forum is never a . . . Read More → KMA on WCSH6 News: How to Handle Conflict Between Colleagues

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We start on September 15 with our very popular InsideOut Coaching™ program. Last year we had well over 40 participants enroll in this 8-hour program, and we . . . Read More → KMA Announces New Semester of KMA-U Course Offerings

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The previous version, with a revision date of 11/14/16, can be used until September 17, 2017. Effective . . . Read More → New Version of Form I-9 Released

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Maine law has been amended to allow 14 and 15 year olds to work in:

movie theaters bowling alleys permanent amusement parks and in certain . . . Read More → New Maine Law Expands Employment for Minors

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Retaining employees helps maintain productivity and reduces organizational energy spent searching for new employees, which is time consuming and costly. Acting intentionally to improve . . . Read More → Employee Retention Tips – You’ve Found Them, Now Keep Them!

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Under . . . Read More → Governor LePage Signs Bill to Restore the Minimum Wage Tip Credit

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School is Out! Drive with Caution


Here is an important end of school year safety message from Stanley Abraham, President of SGA Safety Educational Services. SGA helps protect small- and medium-size businesses and their employees from work hazards and fines through safety education programs and job site inspections. Maine owned and operated, SGA offers over 15 years of experience . . . Read More → School is Out! Drive with Caution

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