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With winter around the corner and the weather getting cooler, it’s time to start thinking about what to do if it snows and employees are unable to get to work.

If you close your business

shoveling snow

Exempt employees should be paid if a business is closed due to inclement weather- they should receive their weekly salary for this time. However, an employer can take these days out of the personal days, vacation time, or paid time off. As an employer, it is respectful and in some places required to alert employees that it will come out of their personal time. If it one full week of closure, employees do not need to be paid for that time. However, if work is done during any of the time the business is closed, employees need to be compensated.

If your company chooses to use accrued time to pay employees, but an employee does not have any paid time off accrued, you still must pay the employee their full wage. In some cases they will need to examine contracts to ensure that there are no limits to how much time can be taken away. However, if vacation or PTO is not offered to employees in general, exempt employee should still be paid.

For non-exempt employees they do not need to be paid for hours they do not work. However, a company may give them the option to elect to use their paid time off or vacation time. When it comes to non-exempt employees who are paid a fix weekly salary for fluctuating hours they must be paid for the week if they work for at least three hours.

Sending Employees Home Early

Like above, if an exempt employee goes to work, they must be paid for the entire day. However, non-exempt employees do not necessarily have to be paid for the time they do no work. Some states have reporting time pay- which means that they need to be paid for a certain number of hours regardless of whether or not they worked.

  • California - Law requires that nonexempt employees must be paid for half of their scheduled shift at their regular rate, it cannot be less than two hours or more than four.
  • Connecticut - This law only applies to four industries: beauty shop, mercantile trades, and laundry/cleaning/dyeing operations, all must be paid for a minimum of four hours and in the hotel and restaurant industry a minimum of two hours. It can be waived if the scheduled shift is less than four hours.
  • District of Columbia - If an employee reports to work for a scheduled shift more than four hours, they must be paid for at least four hours.
  • Massachusetts - If an employee works for any shift scheduled at three hours or more they must be paid for at least three hours at minimum wage, the “three-hour rule.” The rule does not apply to non-profits
  • New Hampshire - Employees must be paid for at least two hours at their regular rate, it does not apply to county or municipality employees.
  • New York - Regardless if there is work to be done, if an employee shows up they must be paid for at least four hours of work, unless the scheduled shift is less than four hours in which case they must be paid for the full amount of time. This does not apply to: employees who are on call or live on the employers’ premises, building service industries, administrative, executive, profession, outside sales, farm laborers, taxicab drivers, babysitters, companions, golf caddies, staff counselors, and booth renters (those who rent space in a beauty shop).
  • Oregon - For employees under the age of 18 they must be paid for half of their scheduled shift, or one hour at their regular rate, whichever is more.
  • Rhode Island - No matter the shift length employees must be paid at minimum of three hours of work.

Employees who can’t make it to work

If your business chooses to open but an employee cannot make it to work exempt employees can lose time out of their personal or vacation time. If no time has been saved or it has all been exhausted an employer may deduct funds from pay, only if the employee misses a full day of work.

Telecommuting

If you allow employees to work from home, or expect them to work from home in the event of inclement weather they must be paid. Exempt employees should be paid for the day, or week, whichever is applicable. If an exempt employee is expected to any work whatsoever from home, or another location they must be paid for that time- even if it is beyond a week that the company is closed. As always, non-exempt employees should be paid for the hours they work.