Handling Employee Pay when Bad Weather Hits

Question:

With all the bad weather we have been having, how do I handle paying employees when our facilities are closed, or employees just don’t make it in because of the weather?

Answer:

No matter where you live, inclement weather is bound to affect your workforce at some point in time. How you handle it depends on whether employees are exempt or non-exempt.

For exempt employees, the Fair Labor Standards Act mandates that you cannot reduce the pay of an exempt employee for less than a full day. If the employee is willing and able to work, but the organization is closed, the Department of Labor has ruled that you must pay exempt employees for time missed when it is less than a week. You can however require an employee to use any available paid time off (i.e. vacation time), even if that remaining time has already been scheduled and approved for another time. But keep in mind the impact of doing so on employee morale. Even if an employee has no remaining PTO, the Department of Labor has clearly established that exempt employees must be paid their regular salary for time missed, when it is less than a week, due to facility closure. In the event you are open for business but an exempt employee does not report for work due to inclement weather, the FLSA does allow you do deduct a full day’s pay. Again, you may require them to use paid time off. In order to avoid the inevitable negative feelings on the part of the employee, many employers will just pay the day or allow the employee to work from home.

For non-exempt employees, there is no requirement to pay employees for time they have not actually worked. You might want to consider requiring or allowing employees to use PTO (to make up for lost wages) or allowing them to make up the time within the same work week.

The important thing is to have thought your policy through before the weather hits. In addition to compensation, determine how you will you communicate to your employees that the organization is closed due to bad weather or other misfortunes. By establishing a plan before the weather hits, you can minimize the disruption and uncertainty for employees.

For further guidance on the Fair Labor Standards Act, visit www.dol.gov.

It’s tough having to navigate the ever-changing FLSA laws and other federally mandated rules and regulations. Strategic HR can help. Ask us for assistance with any of your benefits and compensation needs. Please visit our Benefits & Compensation page for more information on any of these services.