It’s that time of year again—when snow and ice wreak havoc on business operations. Fortunately, at Integrity HR, we’re equipped with inclement weather and snow day policies for our colleagues that allows us to manage the situation effectively without hampering our productivity. This is the perfect time for you to update your inclement weather policy.
Key aspects of the policy to consider:
- Safety guidelines for when employees should attempt coming into the office. For example, icy conditions or school closings could shape the decision.
- Remote work expectations and preparation ahead of time can reduce the impact on your business. For example, when inclement weather is expected, suggest employees take laptops and work that can be done remotely with them just in case they cannot make it safely to the office.
- Paid versus unpaid time off clarifications should be outlined in your policy and communicated to employees. You have the ability to decide whether employees may take unpaid time off or use vacation or paid time off (PTO). Do not deduct wages from exempt employees if PTO is not available. Do not require employees to use their protected sick leave if you’re in a state that requires that benefit.
Here is another blog post with ideas to create your organization’s snow day policy – https://integrityhr.com/hrblog/how-to-create-your-organizations-snow-day-policy/ .
A key legal aspect to consider is adhering to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) guidelines, essential for developing and applying weather-related policies, especially concerning employee compensation during closures.
Compensation varies for non-exempt and exempt employees in these scenarios:
Paying non-exempt, hourly employees due to bad weather is not mandatory. However, employers can opt to pay them fully or partially, since the closure isn’t their fault. Alternatively, you can allow these employees to use their accrued PTO.
Remember, if your business closes early or opens late, non-exempt employees must be paid for the time they work.
Handling compensation for exempt employees is more intricate, guided by specific FLSA rules. The Department of Labor mandates that if an exempt employee works at any time during the week, they must receive their full salary amount.
Employers should not deduct pay for closures caused by the employer, like weather-related shutdowns.
Inclement Weather Early Departures or Late Arrivals
If exempt employees 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 – and put you at risk for violating FLSA guidelines.
Inclement Weather Business Closures
If your business chooses to close for a day due to inclement weather, exempt employees should still be paid for the full week. However, if the office is open, but the employee chooses to stay home for personal reasons, you are not required to pay the employee. This is just like any other day an exempt employee chooses not to come into work.
The employee can use accrued PTO, if available, to cover the absence. If the employee has no accrued PTO, you should reduce the employee’s pay in full-day increments.
To circumvent confusion, consider allowing remote work during bad weather. This maintains safety as a priority for business continuity. Some businesses establish a time bank for weather-related closures, deducting missed time from this reserve. Once depleted, employees can utilize PTO. This method suits both non-exempt and exempt staff.
If you have specific questions, please fill out the contact form (https://integrityhr.com/contact/) and one of our experts will help you create a policy that works for you and your team.