The Wage And Hour Issues That Can Blow Your Way This Hurricane Season

With the arrival of the hurricane season, employers may be unsure about their obligations to pay workers.

If your office or workplace is closed, whether an employee must be paid depends upon whether the employee is exempt from overtime or not.

Remember, just because an employee receives a salary does not mean that employee is exempt from overtime under federal or state laws.

Overtime exemptions must satisfy not only the required salary level, but also the required job duties and responsibilities. See, for example,

If your worksite is closed for a weather emergency, you must pay your exempt employees if they worked any portion of that work week. And, if, after the storm passes, an exempt employee is "ready, willing, and able to work" but your worksite is still closed, they should be paid. If your worksite is open, but an exempt employee cannot get to work because of the weather, then you can deduct an exempt employee's salary for a full day's absence.

Basically, as to your non-exempt employees, if they are not working, they are not paid, even if the reason they are not working is that your office is closed during or after a storm.

Note that some states have laws that provide that if an employee travels to the worksite to work, only to find it closed, then the employer must pay the employee a minimum amount for showing up on time.

In addition, you may have a policy in your handbook allowing for payments to be made to non-exempt employees during weather emergency-related conditions. And, another good policy to have is one requiring your employees to notify you as soon as possible as to whether they are able to get into work. They should know that if no one answers in the workplace, they should stay home unless they are sure it is safe to attempt to go to work.

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