As expected, the answer may differ if the office is closed or if employees simply can’t make it to work. The answer is also dependent on whether an employee is exempt or non-exempt from overtime pay. This article will explain the regulations from the USDOL under the FLSA. Employers may have policies that are more beneficial to the employee than the regulations require but they may not have any that are more restrictive.
When the decision has been made by an employer to close the office, an exempt employee must be paid for the day. Their salary may not be docked. However, it is acceptable for an employer to require an exempt employee to use time from their vacation or PTO banks, if available, to cover the amount of time they miss in accordance with company policy.
An organization has no requirement to pay a non-exempt employee if they decision has been made to close the office. The employer might consider allowing employees the opportunity to use their PTO if they’d like to get paid for the time off, but the employer has no requirement to do so.
Many employers choose to pay employees, both exempt and non-exempt without requiring them to use their PTO or vacation time when they have made the decision to close the office.
Office Not Closed
When an employer has made the decision to leave the office open during times of bad weather, any employee who can’t make it to work does not have to be paid by the employer. From the previous example, it is obvious why a non-exempt employee does not need to be paid. The following explanation taken from the Department of Labor explains why an exempt employee does not have to be paid:
The Department of Labor considers an absence due to adverse weather conditions, such as when transportation difficulties experienced during a snow emergency cause an employee not to report to work for the day even though the employer is open for business, an absence for personal reasons. Such an absence does not constitute an absence due to sickness or disability.
While exempt employees must be paid for the entire day even if they only work a partial day, an employer has no duty to pay a salaried employee for a full day absence due to inclement weather.
Many employers require employees, both exempt and non-exempt, to use PTO or vacation time if they need to take the day off in this circumstance. If the employees have no PTO or vacation time available, many employers choose to have the employee go unpaid.
Dan Jacey, SPHR, is a guest contributor. Dan is a Consultant and HR Manager with SERPEO located in Troy, MI.
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