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Hurricane Days: Should You Be Paid If Your Employer Closes?

Hurricane Days: Should You Be Paid If Your Employer Closes?

For those of us living near the coast, the threat of hurricanes is a common yearly occurrence, and while most employers have contingency plans for maintaining production and service during workplace closures, many won’t address the manner in which employees should be paid in such cases.

An employer cannot waive a wage and hour obligation during natural disasters under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). The effect depends on whether the employee is exempt or non-exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Employees who are paid on an hourly basis are often classified as non-exempt under the FLSA, and are only paid for the actual hours that they work.  Nonexempt employees do not need to be paid since non-exempt employees are paid based on hours actually worked.  An exception to this rule exists where there are employees who receive fixed salaries for fluctuating workweeks. These are non-exempt employees who have agreed to work an unspecified number of hours for a specified salary. An employer must pay these employees their full weekly salary for any week in which any work was performed.

Under the FLSA, a salaried employee is exempt, and is generally entitled to receive his or her entire weekly salary regardless of the quality or quantity of work performed. For exempt employees, an employer will be required to pay the employee’s full salary if the worksite is closed or unable to reopen due to inclement weather or other disasters for less than a full workweek. However, an employer may require exempt employees to use allowed leave for this time. However, if an employer remains open and the employee is absent due to inclement weather, the Department of Labor considers that absence, as an absence for personal reasons. Thus, an employer that remains open for business during a weather emergency may lawfully deduct a full-day’s absence from the employee’s salary. Such a deduction will not violate the salary basis rule or otherwise affect the employee’s exempt status.

The rule is different in cases where the workplace is forced to close because of the inclement weather conditions. In such cases, the employer may not make deductions for absences caused by the employer or by the operating requirements of the business. So if an employer closes operations due to a weather-related emergency for less than a full workweek, the employer must pay an exempt employee the full salary.

As many employers have different policies, it is important that employees read their Employee Handbook and ask what the Company policies may be in regard to inclement weather days. Should you have any questions as to whether you should be getting paid for inclement weather days, visit our website www.lineschfirm.com.

By: Daniela Carrion