Business

Watching the eclipse at work? Better ask the boss

ECLIPSE 2017: The view from SC State Museum in Columbia

A look at the 2017 solar eclipse from Columbia's SC State Museum
Up Next
A look at the 2017 solar eclipse from Columbia's SC State Museum

Monday’s eclipse was a once-in-a-lifetime event. But not all Charlotte workers got to experience it, as employers sought to balance the need to continue operations with granting free time to view the event.

Across the city, some large employers said they were leaving it to the discretion of managers as to whether workers would get to see the first total solar eclipse to cross the U.S. in 99 years, which intersected with the middle of the workday.

Charlotte-based Bank of America and Duke Energy were among companies that said they were taking that approach. Combined, both companies have tens of thousands of employees in the metro area.

“Because our employees are focused on delivering reliable electricity to our customers, we are leaving it up to the individual managers to determine if employees are able to temporarily break away from their work here in Charlotte to view the eclipse,” Duke spokesman Neil Nissan said.

Despite these limitations, workers from uptown to Ballantyne slipped outside or peeked out windows to get a glimpse of the celestial show, which began a little after 1 p.m. and ending around 4 p.m.

Employees in the private sector weren’t the only ones who weren’t guaranteed free time to enjoy Monday’s phenomenon.

Mecklenburg County was operating on a regular 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule and not giving its thousands of employees special time off during the day to watch the eclipse, spokesman Danny Diehl said.

County employees were also not being allowed to work from home in order to see the event, Diehl said. But employees were free to use their lunch time to observe the eclipse if they chose, he said, noting also that workers were able to watch from windows.

The city of Charlotte organized an eclipse-watching event at the Government Center in uptown from 1 to 3 p.m. The public and city employees were invited, but employees were able to attend “as their schedules and managers allow,” city spokeswoman Brittany Clampitt said.

Despite these limitations, workers from uptown to Ballantyne slipped outside or peeked out windows Monday to get a glimpse of the celestial show, which began a little after 1 p.m. and ending around 4 p.m. In uptown, workers emerged from their towers, gazed at the sky for a few minutes and then marched back inside.

Charlotte-based Carolinas HealthCare System said it had encouraged its staff “to safely participate in this once-in-a-lifetime event” and that “we will follow all of our standard policies to ensure the safety of patients and families” but did not provide further details.

Rival Novant Health, based in Winston-Salem, said some of its employees in nonclinical areas would “be able to step outside and view the eclipse.”

Detroit-based Ally Financial, whose CEO sits in Charlotte, said “employees who are available and interested” in seeing the eclipse would be gathering to do so. The company also said it was providing viewing glasses for a suggested donation of $1, to be given to Charlotte Family Housing.

Deon Roberts: 704-358-5248, @DeonERoberts

Related stories from Charlotte Observer

  Comments