Weather Emergencies and Wage and Hour Laws

hurricane-92968_1920When weather emergencies, like hurricanes or snow storms, occur and your business is affected, are you required to pay your employees? It’s not a simple yes or no answer — rather, the situation and the employees’ exempt or nonexempt status determine who should be paid and for what.

For nonexempt employees (those eligible for overtime pay), you are only required to pay for hours worked. If an employee can’t make it to work or is late due to severe weather, you only are required to pay them for the time they actually spend working. If the business closes due to severe weather you are not obligated to pay the employee for the day (unless they do any work remotely).

Exempt employees (those not eligible for overtime and paid on a salary basis of at least $455 per week) should generally be paid their full salary for any week in which they do any work. If the business closes for any amount of time less than one week, salary employees must be paid their full salary for the week. If the business is open but the employee is unable to report to work due to the severe weather, it is considered an absence for personal reasons and the company is permitted to deduct pay for the day(s) missed, but cannot make partial day deductions of pay.

Generally employers are permitted to require employees to use available vacation time or other paid time off (PTO) for days missed due to severe weather (unless your PTO policy states otherwise).  Vacation or PTO can be used for both partial and/or full day absences.

Before making any decisions regarding time off and payment of wages, be sure to check your local and state wage and hour laws in addition to your existing company policies.