“Good Day Sunshine”… But Not for Long

As summer fades into a “September Song,” it is only natural to feel a bit blue. After all, that means Ol’ Man Winter is lurking just around the corner. Employers should take the time now to revisit or develop inclement-weather guidelines to ensure everyone is on the same page regarding how employees will be notified of closings and how employers will address pay issues.

Employers should give consideration to how they intend to manage exempt and nonexempt staff during full-day closures, early closures/late openings, and when the workplace remains open during bad weather. In the absence of a commitment to the contrary, employers are not legally obligated to compensate nonexempt employees for hours not worked. However, many organizations still opt to compensate employees when the decision to close was initiated by the employer.

Employers should also consider whether to permit the use of accrued benefit time for those employees who elect to stay home or depart early due to personal safety concerns when the workplace remains open. Exempt employees must ordinarily be paid their full salaries in situations where the employer makes a decision to close; however, if the organization stays open and an employee chooses to stay home and not work for a full day, employers may generally reduce the employee’s salary as a permissible deduction for an absence due to personal reasons other than sickness or disability. The key here is a full-day absence, as exempt employees must be paid their full salary if they work any part of a day. However, accrued benefit time, when available, may be used to offset a partial-day absence.

Employers should decide whom they will notify, as well as how, when making a decision to close due to inclement weather. Ensure that employees are familiar with expectations surrounding reporting and call-off requirements when they are unable to report to work. If employees are permitted to telecommute in adverse weather, frame out expectations in advance to ensure proper productivity and reporting of time for nonexempt employees. Taking a moment to prepare for contingencies while the sun is still shining will go a long way toward alleviating the stress when the snow begins to fall.