How Do I Pay Employees When Weather Interferes with Work?

It’s that time of year again: the snow, sleet, and ice season. While inclement weather may not impede the U.S. Postal Service, it may cause employees unwilling to brave treacherous road conditions to absent themselves from work or even force employers to close operations. With this season upon us, it is important to review your relevant pay practices for exempt and nonexempt employees.

Nonexempt Employees
Employers are obligated to pay nonexempt employees for all hours actually worked. In other words, employers are not required to pay nonexempt employees who choose not to report to work because of inclement weather or are unable to work because the employer has suspended operations. Likewise, if a nonexempt employee arrives late or leaves early because of hazardous road conditions, employers need not pay the employee for such periods of absence. Employers should consider, however, whether they would allow or require nonexempt employees to use any accrued paid time off or allow them to make up lost time later in the week. Generally, the best practice is to follow the same leave policy you currently have in place. Alternatively, employers may consider providing paid leave for employer closures to bolster employee morale.

Exempt Employees
Employers are required to pay exempt employees their full salaries for any week in which they perform any work, regardless of the number of days or hours worked. In other words, if an employer suspends operations for less than a full workweek, the employer must pay exempt employees their full weekly salaries. Likewise, employers
may not deduct from an exempt employee’s pay if the employee arrives late or leaves early because of hazardous road conditions. In the event operations are closed for a full workweek, the employer need not pay exempt employees their weekly salaries for that workweek. Deductions from pay are also acceptable when exempt employees choose to absent themselves from a full workday because of inclement weather when the office is open. What’s more, employers may require exempt employees to use accrued paid time off for a full or partial day’s absence, whether the result of an employer closure or employee choice.

Establishing compliant pay practices and clearly communicating your leave policy for inclement weather absences will help to avoid any grievances that may arise when inclement weather inevitably develops.