Parts of the U.S. got slammed by hurricane Ida. And while the physical and emotional toll of these storms were devastating, you also must think about your employees and the company. For example, are absences from the hurricane paid or unpaid?
And we aren’t talking about an emergency preparedness plan. Yes, you need one of those in place, but we’re talking about legal issues.
For example, if you require employees to come to work when a hurricane is forecasted to hit, can you fire them for not showing up due to the hurricane?
Legally, yes, you probably can, according to JD Supra. But do you want to?
In today’s job market, where people are flying the coop for better salaries and benefits, people don’t want to work for companies they think don’t care about their employees’ safety.
Exempt vs. non-exempt
Now, let’s say you don’t require them to come to work during a hurricane. Do you have to pay them?
If the employee is hourly and “non-exempt” from FLSA for hours not worked, than no you don’t have to pay them.
What if your business is open, but that same hourly employee doesn’t show up because of the hurricane?
Again, you don’t need to pay them for non-working time.
However, if the workplace is closed due to a hurricane, the employer is required to pay exempt employees. One thing to note, this is true only if the business is closed for less than a full week. You may, however, require exempt employees to use any paid leave benefits they have.
What about if an employee physically can’t make it in after a storm because roads aren’t passable, bridges are out, or trains and busses aren’t running?
Under DOL regs, this is an absence for personal reasons, and you don’t have to pay non-exempt workers. As for exempt employees, you can make a deduction from their salary for a full-day absence due to weather or you can require they use paid time off for the absence. Just remember, you can’t make a duction for anything other than a full-day absence. If an exempt employee makes it in for a half of a day, you can’t make a deduction.
If remote work is an option, non-exempt employees must be paid for their time worked, even if it’s self-reported. As for exempt employees, they must receive their regular salary. You can, however, require them to take PTO for partial days.