Snow and slippery conditions during the winter months may make it difficult for your employees to travel to work. Consider the following guidelines that can help your company be prepared when bad weather strikes.
1. When an employee misses work due to bad weather conditions, whether the employee is entitled to be paid for the absence may depend on the employee's exempt or non-exempt status.
Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers are not required to pay non-exempt employees for hours they did not work, including when the office is closed due to bad weather.
Exempt employees generally must be paid their full salary amount if they perform any work during a workweek. However, an employer that remains open for business during a period of bad weather may generally make deductions, for full-day absences only, from the salary of an exempt employee who chooses not to report to work because of the weather. Deductions from salary for less than a full-day's absence are not permitted.
If the business is closed for the day as a result of inclement weather, the employermay not deduct the day's pay from the salary of an exempt employee. The general rule is that an employer who closes operations due to a weather-related emergency or other disaster for less than a full workweek must pay an exempt employee the full salary for that week, if the employee performs any work during the week. This is because deductions may not be made for time when work is not available.
2. Some states require employers to pay employees for showing up even if no work is available or there is an interruption of work and the employee is sent home.
Although payment for time not worked may not be required for non-exempt employees under federal law, some states do require that employees be paid for a minimum number of hours for reporting to work, even if there is no work that can be performed (such as when the office is closed) or the employee is sent home early, for instance, due to an impending storm.
Often called "reporting time pay," these laws may apply to specific industries (e.g., manufacturing) or certain employees only, so it is important to check with your state labor department for requirements that may apply to your company before implementing any policy.
3. Plan ahead to let your employees know what is expected of them and to help minimize disruption to your business.
Make it a priority to notify all of your employees, both exempt and non-exempt, of your company's policy regarding employee attendance and pay during periods of inclement weather. Your policy should include information on how your employees can find out whether the office is open or closed, such as by email, radio broadcast, calling in to hear a recorded message, or other methods that all employees can access. Be sure to apply your policy consistently and fairly to all employees.
It's also prudent to remind employees to use their best judgment and not to put their safety at risk when it comes to traveling to work during or after a storm. If possible, see if you can arrange for employees to work remotely from home on days when the weather makes travel dangerous.
For more issues related to employee compensation, including guidelines for determining the exempt or non-exempt status of your employees, visit our section onEmployee Pay.
New Guidance on Joint Employment Under the Fair Labor Standards Act
The U.S. Department of Labor has issuednew guidance concerning joint employment under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Under the FLSA, it is possible for a worker to be employed by two (or more) joint employers who are both responsible for compliance. This is because joint employment is included in the law's definition of "employment," which was written to have as broad an application as possible.
Determining When Joint Employment Exists
The most likely scenarios for joint employment are:
- Where the employee has two (or more) technically separate but related or associated employers. Joint employment exists where two or more employers benefit from the employee's work and they are sufficiently related to or associated with each other. The focus of this type of joint employment--sometimes called horizontal joint employment--is the degree of association between the two (or more) employers.
- Where one employer provides labor to another employer and the workers are economically dependent on both employers. Joint employment also exists where a worker is, as a matter of economic reality, economically dependent on two employers: an intermediary employer (e.g., a staffing agency) and another employer who engages the intermediary to provide workers. The focus of this type of joint employment--sometimes called vertical joint employment--is the employee's relationship with the other employer (as opposed to the intermediary employer).
Responsibilities of Joint Employers
- Joint employers (whether vertical or horizontal) are responsible, both individually and jointly, for compliance with the FLSA.
- Each of the joint employers must ensure that the employee receives all employment-related rights under the FLSA (including payment of at least the federal minimum wage for all hours worked and overtime pay at not less than one and one-half the regular rate of pay for hours worked over 40 in a workweek, unless an exception or exemption applies).
- Joint employers must combine all of the hours worked by the employee in a workweek to determine if the employee worked more than 40 hours and is due overtime pay.
Additional resources, including Fact Sheets and Q&As, are available on the DOL'swebsite.
More information on employers' responsibilities under the FLSA is featured in our section on the Fair Labor Standards Act.