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How to pay if the weather outside is frightful

by on
in Employment Law,Human Resources

When harsh winter weather bumps up against the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the result can be a blizzard of pay problems for you. Employees often come in late, leave early or miss work altogether when the weather is bad.

How should you count their hours—and their pay?

Nonexempt employees

Under the FLSA, nonexempts need only be paid for the time worked. So those who work partial days don’t need to be paid for the time they don’t work. So if Jane, who is nonexempt, comes into work an hour late because she had to shovel out her driveway, you can deduct an hour from her usual daily pay.

Note: You may allow nonexempts to use accrued leave to make up the difference. However, don’t count accrued leave toward hours worked for the purpose of figuring overtime pay. It’s idle time pay, which is excluded from the regular rate.

If bad weather keeps nonexempts from coming to work at all, you don’t have to pay them for that day.

Exempt employees

The situation for exempt workers is usually simpler than it is for nonexempts. As a general rule, if an exempt employee performs any work during the workweek, he or she must be paid the full salary amount for that week.

However, under long-standing rules, you may deduct from exempts’ pay full days taken as personal time. They must take the full day off—and do no work at home.

(Note that all these rules apply whenever employees don’t make it into work, no matter why.)

What if you’re closed?

There may come a point when the weather is just so foul that you decide to close your business for a day or two.

Nonexempts don’t have to be paid, but, as above, they can use any available accrued time.

The situation for exempts is stickier, since they must be paid if the business decides not to open. Exception: Employers with bona fide benefits plans may require exempts to use accrued time. 

Online resource: Here's a flowchart that spells out all your winter weather pay and leave options.

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