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We receive many questions from employers regarding pay practices when winter storms wreak havoc with business operations.

Please see the information below provided by our Employee Benefits and Human Resource partners One Digital and Insight.

If the employer closes the office… 

Non-exempt*

  • Do not have to be paid
  • Employee may use PTO to be paid

Exempt (assuming ready and able to work)

  • Must be paid
  • Employer can apply employee’s available PTO but…
  • Employees with no available PTO must still receive full pay

If the company is open and the employee
chooses not to come in… 

Non-Exempt*

  • Do not have to be paid
  • Employee may use PTO to get paid 

 

Exempt with no available PTO               

  • Employer can deduct for a full** day of missed work

 

Exempt with available PTO

  • Employer can apply employee’s available PTO 

* If non-exempt employees are paid by a salary instead of by the hour, the same rules above apply. The way they are paid does not affect the non-exempt status thus still allowing the employer to deduct pay.

** Deductions from salary for less than a full day’s absence are not permitted. Therefore, where the employee’s absence is for less than a full day, payment of an amount equal to the employee’s guaranteed salary must be made even if the employee has no accrued vacation or other leave benefits.

Things Employers Should Consider:

  • Forcing non-exempt employees to take leave without pay while exempt employees continue to receive their salary may be likely to engender resentment.
  • An employer’s failure to close when weather conditions are severe can create ill-will among employees and risk the safety of employees and the public.
  • Poor weather conditions can cause or contribute to accidents and result in higher workers’ compensation costs and liabilities. Most injuries to employees on employer property are covered by workers’ compensation. Thus, weather-related injuries, such as injuries to employees who slip and fall on icy sidewalks or parking lots, usually are compensable under workers’ compensation.
  • Employers that require employees to commute to work in snowy weather should take steps to ensure that the buildings, sidewalks, and parking lots are accessible when employees arrive.
  • The simplest and most equitable approach to handling inclement weather issues is to grant employees company paid leave. Non-exempt employees are paid for the hours they were scheduled to work and exempt employees are paid their regular, unreduced salaries. While granting this leave is the simplest approach, it also is the most expensive for the employer.

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