A big chunk of the U.S. has dealt with some pretty nasty weather recently. Here’s a guide to handling pay and absence issues when snow, rain, ice and more interrupt your operation — and your workers’ lives.
Dealing with pay when your office closes or when staffers can’t make it in can get awfully confusing. Let’s break it down into hourly and salaried employees.
Paying exempt workers in the event of a weather emergency comes down to whether the employee is “ready, willing and able to work,” according to Miyuki P. Oshima of Ogletree Deakins.
If your company decides to voluntarily close for less than a full workweek, you need to pay exempt staffers their full weekly salary or risk them losing their exemption. As long as staff members are paid their guaranteed salary, you could also ask them to take paid time off.
On the other hand, if workers can’t make it in, but your firm is still open, you can require them to take vacation time, paid time off or other accrued leave.
And what happens if an employee isn’t yet eligible for accrued leave? The law says you can deduct one full day’s absence from the worker’s salary, according to Oshima.
It might seem like a piece of cake to determine pay for non-exempt workers during a weather emergency: If an hourly employee doesn’t work, he or she doesn’t get paid.
And yes, that’s true — even when a company chooses to voluntarily close, according to Oshima.
However, you are allowed to pay non-exempt workers if you’d like. Alternatively, you can make them take vacation or other types of leave to cover if they can’t make it in to work.
Inclement weather policies
The best bet for companies: Decide ahead of time how you’ll handle tough weather issues.
Joanna Vilos, writing for the Employers’ Law Blog, has a number of tips for firms looking or needing to adopt an inclement weather policy.
If you’re putting one together, make sure you address the following questions:
- Who will decide if/when your business closes due to inclement weather? Is the decision contingent on any specific factors, such as community declaration of a snow emergency, shut down of the public transportation system or accumulation of “x” inches of snow?
- How will you communicate a business closure/snow day to employees – will you use a call-in hotline? Text messages? A phone tree? Television business closure list?
- Are there essential personnel who are expected to report to work even if the rest of your operations are closed?
- Can employees work remotely and if so, what are your expectations for them to do so when inclement weather prevents employees from working in your facility?
- What is your call-in procedure if an employee can’t make it to work due to the weather?
- Will you excuse employees’ absences and/or tardiness that are caused by bad weather?
- If you shut down or send employees home due to adverse weather, will you pay non-exempt employees for the missed time?
- May/must non-exempt employees use vacation time or other accrued time off to get paid for time missed due to bad weather?