Inclement Weather/Emergency Closures and Payment
It’s the beginning of September, and hopefully, most employers have had a reprieve from inclement weather in recent months. However, some regions of the country experience their most severe weather conditions during the warmer months, leading to workplace closures or delayed openings due to hurricanes, flooding and tornado activity. As the warm weather is alive and well in most parts of the country and the cooler days fast approach, we recommend that you plan now.
It is recommended that an organization has a clear policy in place regarding inclement weather. From telephone chains for communicating office closures and delayed openings, and a system of broadcasting closures and delays of operating hours to its clients and customers, to a policy delineating whether employees will be paid for days that the organization is closed or has experienced a shortened workday due to poor weather, timely and consistent communication is key.
Establishing a plan that is consistent for all employees, as well as within the FLSA guidelines is imperative when crafting an inclement weather plan. For non-exempt status employees, some organizations consider it simpler and more effective to establish a policy that incorporates a set bank of time off from work that may be utilized for inclement weather. If a partial day is utilized, than it may be subtracted incrementally from the employee’s bank of time. Once the bank of time has been exhausted, non-exempt status employees should have an opportunity to use any paid time off that is available to them.
Exempt status employees may be granted a bank of inclement weather days for use as well. It is important to treat exempt employees in line with FLSA guidelines if they leave work early or arrive late due to a delayed opening. Exempt status employees are paid for the job and not for the number of hours worked; thus, if they work a portion of a business day, they must be paid for the entire day and not be docked any time. Partial day deductions could jeopardize their classification as an exempt status employee.
Partnering with your Human Resources professional will help establish a concise and consistent inclement weather policy for your organization that is aligned with FLSA guidelines. From the communication of closures and delayed openings to employee compensation for days that the company is closed or experiences an abbreviated work day, communicating to all employees in a written policy that is included within the contents of an organization’s Employee Handbook will ensure that a consistent practice has been put into place in regard to inclement weather policies.