How Do I Pay Employees When Weather Disrupts the Workplace?

We all know that the weather can turn on us at any moment. When it does, many employers question how to pay their employees.  The answer is, “it depends,” but we provide more guidance below, so you can get answer for your situation.

We start by looking at whether the workplace was open or closed.  Sometimes employees are unable to get to work, but the workplace is open.  If a non-exempt employee doesn’t work when the workplace is open and functioning, the employee need not be paid. You may allow non-exempt employees to use vacation, personal leave, or paid time off, and many employers do allow this.  If an exempt employee does not work for a full day when the office is open, you can dock the employee’s salary for that day.  But, if an exempt employee works a partial day, you cannot dock his or her salary.  You can deduct from his or her accrued paid time off to make up for the partial day absence.  If the exempt employee does not have enough time to cover the absence, you must pay the remainder of the employee’s salary. If the workplace is closed, you are not required to pay non-exempt employees.  You are, however required to pay exempt employees for shutdowns of less than a full workweek.

Employers sometimes ask whether employees’ paid time off banks can be docked during weather-related shutdowns. The answer is yes.  You may require both exempt and non-exempt employees to use paid time off during shutdowns.  However, if an exempt employee does not have enough paid time off to cover a partial-day absence or the entire shutdown (of less than one workweek), you must pay the remainder of their salary.

Of course, you should double-check your policy language before moving forward to assure that there is no language prohibiting you from requiring employees to use paid time off.

Many employers are generous and have policies that pay to employees during weather-related shutdowns.  MSEC’s most recent Paid Time Off Survey shows 47 percent of Colorado employers and 28 percent of Wyoming employers have such policies.  If you have unions in your workplace, you should check your collective bargaining agreement to see if it requires pay for shutdowns.

Finally, you should check to see if there are any state laws requiring pay during weather-related shutdowns.  Pay is not required in Arizona, Colorado, or Wyoming.