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Blog By: Jeanne Hines, SPHR

What a winter this has been!  It seems that if it’s not snowing, it’s bitterly cold with high winds.  Sometimes inclement weather keeps employees away from their jobs, either because they can’t get out of the driveway, they get stuck on the way to work, or the business closes.  A well-written snow day policy can help avoid questions on pay day. 

In the case of any weather emergency, how will your employees know whether to report for work?  In our area, many businesses use a radio or TV weather closing announcement.  Another option may be to use an extra extension in your phone system.  A weather line could be set up on which you record a message for your staff.  For example, “We’ll be open for business as usual today, Monday, February 24th.”  Alternately, “We’ll be closed today due to the winter storm and reopen tomorrow, February 25
th, at 8 AM.”  Make sure to include in your plan who will (and how to) contact clients and vendors when the business is closed. 

Snow day policies should include closure and/or pay policies.  Companies may decide whether to pay their hourly staff during closures due to bad weather, or to require them to use accrued paid leave.  It’s common not to pay non-exempt staff who do not to come to work due to bad weather when the business is open and to allow them to use any accrued paid leave, if available. 

What would you do if one of your exempt level employees called during a snowstorm to say their car is stuck and they can’t make it in today?  Would you dock their pay?  When the office is open (work is available), an exempt employee could be required to use any paid time off.  If no time is available, the employee does not have to be paid.  They would be considered to be placed on “leave without pay.”

If the office is closed, it’s different.  The employer could require an exempt employee to use any paid time off available for their absence.  If there is no paid time off available, the employer must pay the employee’s full salary.  Remember, though, you can deduct only full-day absences from exempt employee’s salaries.  Docking pay for partial-day absences could jeopardize the person’s exemption and is not allowed.  For example, if an exempt level employee is gone 1 ½ days, the employer could only dock them one day’s pay because they were only absent for one full day.

For more information on creating a policy, please see the Department of Labor’s website:  at
www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/fairpay/modelPolicy_PF.htm.  For additional information, you can read these Department of Labor opinion letters:  FLSA2005-46 and FLSA2005-41 which are also found on their website.


Posted 3:30 PM

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