As Autumn draws to a close and the season of snow begins, you may have some questions about paying your employees if you have to close early, open late, or just close for the day. Pay obligations may differ during inclement weather closures and are primarily based on the worker’s Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) classification.
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, employers are only required to pay hourly, nonexempt employees for hours worked unless there are some special, “report-in” or “call-in” circumstances. If you close early and send people home or open late and notify employees of that fact, you must pay them for the time worked only, and many organizations choose to pay until the end of the shift (if there was a closure towards the end of the shift). If you remain open but allow employees to leave if they so choose to do so, you do not have to pay them. If you have an “Call-In” situation, or “Report-In” situation (like snow removal employees), you will need to pay the employees from the time they are notified to report and through the time worked. Otherwise, employers are not required to pay hourly, nonexempt employees for business closures or early closures.
Exempt employees must almost always be paid when they work any portion of a workweek, including situations of inclement weather and natural disaster. The Department of Labor provides a list of the instances in which an employer is permitted to dock an exempt employee’s pay. Business closures are not one of the permitted deductions. If an employer sends exempt employees home early because of inclement weather or pending natural disaster, an employer is obligated to pay exempt workers for the entire day.
If an employer decides to close for an entire day because of inclement weather, an employer is still required to pay exempt employees for the entire day. The only instance in which an employer is permitted to not pay exempt employees because of inclement weather or a pending natural disaster is when a business closes for an entire week and exempt employees perform no work during that week. Be very careful here though. Often exempt employees wind up working from home when they cannot get to the work facility. If you assign an exempt worker to notify other employees of the closing, etc. that could be considered as work time (unless it is just for a few minutes).
If the business remains open and the exempt employee decides to take the whole day off for personal reasons, there is no obligation to pay them. However, if they opt to use some sort of accrued personal/vacation/PTO time, then payment will have to be made.
If you have any questions about these, or other compliance issues, give us a call at KardasLarson, and we will be happy to help you navigate through the “sea of uncertainty”.