Hurricane Alert — Paying Employees in the Event of Inclement Weather

September 12, 2018

Poor weather conditions and natural disasters, such as hurricanes, can often raise pay-related questions for employers.

The issue is straightforward for non-exempt employees (i.e. employees subject to overtime pay). Non-exempt employees are paid for the actual time worked. Thus, if they do not report for work or the employer is closed, they are not paid for the day. An employer may choose to allow these employees to use vacation or other paid time off to cover the lost wages.

The issue is a little more complicated for exempt employees (i.e. employees not subject to overtime pay). Exempt employees must be paid if they are ready, willing, and, able to work; this is so even if the employer closes for the day. An employer that remains open during a weather emergency may lawfully deduct one full-day’s absence from the salary of an exempt employee who does not report for work for the day due to adverse weather conditions. The Department of Labor considers this an absence due to personal reasons; therefore, a deduction of a full-day’s pay will not violate the salary basis rule or otherwise affect the employee’s exempt status. An employer may, as an option, require an exempt employee who fails to report for work in this situation take vacation or other paid leave to cover the full-day’s absence. Deductions from an exempt employee's salary for less than a full-day’s absence are not permitted.

SESCO recommends that clients review all applicable policy and practices to ensure compliance. For assistance, contact us at 423-764-4127 or by email at sesco@sescomgt.com