Guidelines for Pay During Inclement Weather
As a child, the term “snowstorm” evoked feelings of excitement. It meant a free day at home to lounge in pajamas and catch up on TV. As a manager of a workforce, the threat of a snowstorm brings about panic and uncertainty. How will business get done if my staff needs to take the day off? Do I need to close for the day? What are my responsibilities when it comes to compensating my workers?
Whether or not you are required to pay your employees for a snow day depends on two factors: if the employee is exempt (from overtime pay) or non-exempt, and whether or not you chose to close for the day. The Department of Labor provides guidance for these situations as outlined below:
Employers who close due to inclement weather must pay the weekly salary for all exempt employees during the closure period. All employees must be paid their full, normal salary.
If your business remains open, the employer must pay an exempt employee for any partial or whole day the employee reports to work. However for the days the employee does not show up for work, the employer is free to deduct accrued leave from the employee’s leave bank. If the exempt employee has no accrued leave, the employer may make reductions from pay for whole day absences.
Federal law does not require non-exempt, or hourly paid, employees to be compensated during these situations. If a non-exempt employee does not report to work for whatever reason, the employer does not need to pay him or her. Unfortunate for these employees, this is also the case if the business voluntarily closes for the day.
Some states, including New Jersey, New York and Connecticut, have what is called reporting time pay laws that guarantee an employee payment for a minimum number of hours when the employee reports for a scheduled shift. Even if the employee work only five minutes, or reports to work but does no work at all, the employee is entitled to minimum pay.
New Jersey requires that an employee be paid for a minimum of one hour at his/her usual rate, unless the employee has already worked the agreed-upon hours for the week.
New York requires that the employee be paid for the scheduled shift up to a maximum of four hours.
Connecticut wage orders require reporting time pay for workers in some industries. For example, a laundry worker must be paid a minimum of four hours at the regular rate when reporting for a scheduled shift, even if no work is available. An employee in the Restaurant or Hotel Industry must be paid for a minimum of two hours at the regular rate, unless the employee was notified the day before that she was not needed.
Despite what the law requires, you should consider paying non-exempt employees for the full day if you do decide to close. Doing so demonstrates good will and is best for morale. Also consider the following:
- Allowing employees to work from home if appropriate
- Having a delayed opening to give employees extra time to travel
- Putting essential employees up in hotels who may travel far distances
After all, the safety of your employees should be your greatest concern.