Some of us LOVE four seasons – you need to if you live in the Mid-West, if you want to “live happy”. (And lately, it feels more like the frozen arctic to some of us!) However, managing staffing during inclement weather, honestly, can be not so fun AND there are some legalities to be aware of when it comes to compensating staff during snow closures.
Who Sets the Rules?
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets the base guidelines to be used by employers covered by FLSA when deciding to pay or not pay employees when inclement weather occurs, such as heavy snow or other types of disasters. Who else can set rules? Employers may choose to be more generous than the FLSA, and then, of course, individual states and union requirements may also be
Non-Exempt Hourly Employees Guidelines
Non-Exempt employees are compensated for hours actually worked. Employers are not obligated to compensate non-exempt employees for work hours missed regardless of the reason. Employers may allow non-exempt employees to use vacation time or PTO time for time missed due to any absence, when employers have such a benefit plan.
Exempt Employees and Salaried Non-Exempt Guidelines When Business Closes Due to Weather
In general, employers must pay the employee’s normal salary if the employee is “ready, willing and able to work”. Deductions may not be made from salaries for time missed when work is not available, i.e. due to business closure, such as inclement weather.
If the employer closes its workplace due to inclement weather or other disasters for less than a full workweek, an employer must pay the employee’s full salary even if:
- employers do not have a bona fide benefit plan;
- employees have no accrued benefits in the leave bank;
- employees have limited accrued leave benefits and reducing that accrued leave will result in a negative balance; or
- employees already have a negative balance in the accrued leave bank.
Do Employers Have to Pay When Business is Open During Inclement Weather But Employees Can’t Make It?
Not according to the DOL. If you’re open, then staff have the option of using PTO/vacation or taking unpaid leave.
A couple thoughts in closing. Often employers choose to salary employees for simplicity’s sake, but, when it comes to leave for issues not under the employee’s control, such as business closures and the employee’s own medical issues, that promise to pay an employee a salary can work against the employer if the correct infrastructure hasn’t been set in place.