Businesses have been majorly affected by the severe winter weather that hit the East coast recently. Some employers have had problems with their workforce being able to make it in to work while other employers have made the decision to close for one or two days because customers and employees couldn’t get to their places of business. When employers can’t operate business as usual because of weather, do they still pay employees? It depends on several factors, including employee status, federal and state law, and the company’s inclement weather policy.
Federal law doesn’t require employers to pay non-exempt employees (who are paid hourly for actual time worked) when they don’t work because of bad weather, regardless of whether their employer is closed or weather makes it impossible to get to work. State law in some states including California have “reporting time pay” laws and may require some pay if employees show up to work as scheduled but the employer is closed due to bad weather. Some employers may have a policy of paying even during closings for bad weather.
According to opinion letters at the Department of Labor, when an employer stays open during extreme weather or emergencies but exempt employees (who are paid a salary for a minimum number of hours worked but not overtime for hours worked over 40) do not show up, employers are allowed to deduct their pay in full day increments. If the employer closes, the exempt employees must be paid but employers can require them to use accrued paid leave.
“Reporting time pay” laws require employers to compensate employees who report to work but aren’t allowed to work because of inadequate scheduling or other employer decisions. California Industrial Welfare Commission Orders protect workers’ pay when they report to work but are prevented from working for various reasons, including bad weather or weather emergencies. Employers must pay at least two hours but preferably half a day’s scheduled hours to employees who arrive to work and are sent home.
Reporting time pay exceptions include when the employee is not fit to work, when the business can’t operate normally during times of civil unrest, during public utilities failures, and interruptions of work due to acts of God beyond the employer’s control, such as earthquakes. The State of California Department of Industrial Relations exceptions do not include inclement weather as acts of God; only natural disasters like earthquakes, tornadoes and tidal waves are considered acts of God.
Employers are not required to have adverse weather policies, but it is a good idea to have them in place anyway. Policies should explain the company’s obligations under the law and any voluntary policy to pay when the business is closed because of bad weather. Written policies should be distributed to every employee equally and reissued when any changes are made.
Answers to bad weather pay questions and other HR issues can help clarify payroll policies for employers and employees. Reporting time pay minimums and requirements and any voluntary adverse weather policies must be followed uniformly for compliance. Having the right HR Solutions in place can help ensure employees and employers know exactly how to respond during inclement weather.
PAYDAY has several HR Solutions to assist businesses with HR and Payroll compliance. Contact us today to find out more and to get a proposal.
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