Inclement Weather – How Do I Pay My Staff?
Snow Street
January 12, 2018

[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”no” equal_height_columns=”no” menu_anchor=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_position=”center center” background_repeat=”no-repeat” fade=”no” background_parallax=”none” parallax_speed=”0.3″ video_mp4=”” video_webm=”” video_ogv=”” video_url=”” video_aspect_ratio=”16:9″ video_loop=”yes” video_mute=”yes” overlay_color=”” video_preview_image=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” padding_top=”” padding_bottom=”” padding_left=”” padding_right=””][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ layout=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” border_position=”all” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding_top=”” padding_right=”” padding_bottom=”” padding_left=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” center_content=”no” last=”no” min_height=”” hover_type=”none” link=””][fusion_text]There are so many natural weather occurrences and disasters that occur it is difficult sometimes to understand how to actually pay people during these times. A well-written weather policy should be explicit and tell the employees what time you will pay for and will not pay for when absent due to the weather/disasters. Also, make it clear how a person will be paid if the office is opened or closed. Some organizations agree to pay all employees the full day when it isn’t their fault the office is closed. However, it is good to remember that time off policies are not mandated by law, so employers are free to administer these programs in any nondiscriminatory way. Nondiscriminatory is the key here: Treat all people in the same classifications equally.

Here are some tips to follow and specific scenarios to help you when determining whether or not to pay an employee if they are absent during the snowstorm, hurricane, etc.

The Classification Test

Know whether your employee is classified as exempt – not eligible for overtime; or non-exempt – eligible for overtime. This makes a big difference! Exempt employees cannot be docked any time or pay unless it is in full-day increments and against a specifically specified policy. On the other hand, non-exempt employees can be docked for time not worked in any given work week. These definitions alone may not be able to make a decision for you on how to pay the staff, so let’s look at specific scenarios to better explain your options.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is the rule book on these scenarios.

Scenario 1

It is snowing very hard and your exempt employee calls to tell you that she can’t drive her car to work. Your office is open for business.

If she actually does no work from home – telephone calls, emails, reports, etc., you can deduct a full day’s pay from this employee. However, you must also give her the opportunity to utilize any vacation or personal time to cover the absence. Remember, exempt employees must be paid for the whole day if they work one hour in any day. Docking an exempt person could cause them to lose their exempt status under the FLSA.

Scenario 2

It is still snowing very hard and a non-exempt employee calls and says he can’t get out of his driveway and it doesn’t look as though he will be able to make it into work for the day. Your office is open for business.

In this instance, because the employee is non-exempt, you do not have to pay them for the time that they are not at work. However, they can elect to take vacation or personal time to cover the day. You should make sure that you ask them how to handle the absence. If they have no time available to them, then it would be a deduction from their pay. Additionally, you must make sure that this employee is not doing any work from home such as emails, telephone calls, etc. In this case, you would have to pay him for the actual time he worked from home. If you do not want to pay this person, you must make it very clear that you do not expect them to do any work from home.

Scenario 3

There is an ice storm and the state has closed down all the roads and has said that only essential personnel* should be on the road. You close the office because the state has closed state roads.

In this case, the state can only close the state roads/highways. You are under no obligation to close your office, but you may decide to close your office because many of your employees use the state roads, and can’t get to work. You do have options regarding paying your employees. You can require exempt staff to take a vacation day, personal day, or any leave time that is available to them, but in this instance, you cannot insist on leave without pay for the exempt individual. You can also require that the exempt person works from home. It was not their choice to stay away from work, but the state’s mandate and with your business being closed, they had no choice.

The non-exempt individual technically doesn’t need to be paid because they are not actually at work, but you should have a written policy that states this fact. Most organizations who are forced to close due to natural occurrences will generally pay all employees for the day since it is no fault of their own that they cannot come to work. Again, you must pay them for any time that is actually worked.

*Essential personnel refers to only state employees.

Scenario 4

Well, it is still heavily snowing and there is a lot of ice build-up on the road. However, the state is not closing any of the roads and so you want to keep your business opened too. Johnny, an exempt employee, calls and says that he will be late, but he will be in the office later. Mary, a non-exempt employee also calls and says, as soon as she is plowed out, she will be in the office.

Johnny does arrive at work by noon and gets to work. In this case, you must pay Johnny for the full day. He made the attempt to get into the office, even though he was late. Doesn’t matter. Remember, Johnny is classified as exempt and will work at least one hour in the day.

Mary arrives at work at 3:00 pm and leaves at 5:00 pm. You thank Mary for making it into the office and you pay her for two hours of time actually worked. Mary states that she at least made it into work and how come she only gets two hours of paid time? Mary can choose to take the other 6 hours of time against any paid leave time off she may have accrued – provided your policy states this fact. But, Mary can also choose to only be paid for the two hours worked. Her choice. If Mary did any work from home during those 6 hours, you must pay her for that time.[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container][fusion_global id=”2928″]

Carol Kardas

Carol Kardas


With 25+ years of generalist HR experience, Carol's focus includes compensation, training, and employee relations. She has advanced HR certifications: SPHR, CCP, SHRM-SCP.


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