With winter well on its way, employers should circulate a well-thought out Inclement Weather Policy that focuses on employee safety and pay. When creating an effective policy, allow employees to use their best judgement when deciding to travel to work during hazardous weather conditions and for employees to not feel threatened if they are unable to make it to the office.
Some policies that can be implemented:
Close the office when public schools are closed due to weather conditions.
Encourage employees to plan ahead and make accommodations to work from home (if applicable) when hazardous weather is anticipated.
Create an emergency personal day bank specifically for weather conditions that don’t permit employees to work from home (power outages, no heat, flooding etc.)
State how far in advance the company will notify employees whether the office will be closed, how they will be notified and how employees will be paid for this time.
Exempt Rules Refresher:
If an exempt employee works only a portion of the workweek, they are entitled for the entire salary they would have earned working the full workweek. Even if an employee leaves early due to weather, they are still to be paid for the entire day. However, employers may require employees to use their PTO for days they are unable to work. The only occurrence where an employer does not have to pay an exempt employee is when the business is closed for the entire week and the employee performs no work.
Under the Fair Labor and Standards Act (FLSA), employers are only required to pay nonexempt employees for hours worked. Some states have laws that require employees to get paid if they show up to work but are sent home early because of natural disasters. Otherwise, employers are not required to pay nonexempt, hourly employees for company closures or early dismissals. Employers can allow employees to use their PTO to cover this time. If PTO is not available to the employee the time off is unpaid. However, it is best practice that these employees get compensated during this time and not be counted towards overtime calculations.