Updated: May 17, 2021

By Robert Turner

February 24, 2021

The polar vortex that shut down much of the southern United States in February 2021 raised many questions from employers and employees alike about inclement weather policies and pay. It is essential to know what to expect when the weather is so bad that a business must close or employees cannot make it to the workplace.

Hourly-Paid Employees

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), employers must pay hourly-paid employees only for the time they spend working. If inclement weather forces a business to close, hourly-paid employees are not required to be paid so long as they are not performing any work. The same holds true when the workplace remains open, but the employee cannot make it in. Simply put, if hourly-paid employees are not working, there is no requirement to pay them.

Salaried Non-Exempt Employees

The FLSA requires salaried employees to be paid their full salary for workweeks in which they perform any work. So, in the case of the workplace being closed less than one week due to inclement weather, salaried employees must be paid their full salary for that week if they performed any work. However, an employer does not have to pay salaried employees if the workplace is closed for an entire week and no work was completed.

What about when a workplace is open, but a salaried employee cannot come in? The answer to this question is that the employee staying home will be considered “absent” from work for that day. The employer then can require that the employee use any accrued leave time to cover the absence. If an employer does not have a leave policy in place, the employer is not obligated to pay that employee. The employer can then deduct a full day’s pay from the employee’s next paycheck for the day(s) missed. Deductions can only occur in a situation where an employee misses an entire day. Even if an employee only works part of a day before leaving due to incoming inclement weather, that employee is still entitled to a salary for the entire day.

It is important to note, in this era of working from home, an employer will be required to pay both its hourly-paid and salaried employees even if the workplace is closed provided that those employees are performing work from home. To avoid any confusion about this situation, an employer must have clear guidance in place regarding inclement weather and what is expected from all employees.

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