Original Date: July 23, 2018
The question regarding weapon-free workplace policies is often asked by employers. Can we tell employees to keep firearms off company property or out of company vehicles? What about concealed carry permits? “Many states throughout the country have “parking lot storage” laws that give employees the right to keep firearms in their vehicles even when they are parked on employer-owned property…laws often have rules on where a firearm must be kept…hidden away in a locked car or out of plain sight.”[i] Laws vary by state. However, in New York State and the State of Pennsylvania, there is no parking lot storage laws that will impact the decisions of the organization. Therefore, we can establish a zero-tolerance policy for weapons on or in company “property.”
States that currently have parking lot storage laws:
Information that should be included in the weapon-free workplace policy:
- Purpose: Organization X maintains a workplace safe and free of violence for all employees. The company prohibits the possession or use of dangerous weapons on or in the organizations “property.”
- Persons Covered: Who is covered by the policy? Full-time, contract workers, temporary employees, interns, visitors, customers, etc. The license does not supersede the organizations policy. Violation of the policy is subject to discipline, up to and including dismissal.
- Define Company Property and Dangerous Weapons: Buildings, surrounding areas, vehicles owned or leased, firearms, explosives, knives, etc.
- Searches of Property: Set the tone and ensure that the policy clearly outlines the language as it relates to personal property searches. Federal, state and local laws regarding searches. What if they fail or refuse to allow the search? Spell that out as well.
- Enforcement: Who administers the policy? Who should an employee contact if there is concerns? HR, business owner, general manager, etc.
The weapon-free workplace policy should be no more than 1-2 pages in length, depending on definitions and enforcement. Throughout the Southern Tier and Northern Pennsylvania, we have employees who hunt after work. This does not mean they can keep a hunting weapon in their vehicle if your policy does not allow them too. Hold the workforce accountable and enforce the policy as it is written. I know of organizations that allow certain employees to keep a concealed weapon for safety of the organization. This responsibility comes with additional training and is generally approved by the business owner or high-level employee. This is rare, but I have worked with a few organizations that do this. Know the laws; federal, state and local, communicate the policy, enforce the policy through training, hold the workforce accountable and ensure we are providing a safe place to work. If you are unclear on laws, regulations, policy drafting, training design or policy communication, seek guidance. The laws continue to change on parking lot storage throughout the country. We will continue to see evolution of these laws.
– Matthew Burr, HR Consultant