If the state declares a state of emergency due to bad weather, is the company required to pay those employees who were scheduled to work.
This is a deceptively complex issue. The answer depends upon whether the employees are exempt or non-exempt, and whether the business is open. In some cases, it also depends upon state law. Because you do not mention which state you are in, we will respond according to the federal FLSA, the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Generally speaking, hourly (and non-exempt) employees must be paid only for the time they work. If an employee is scheduled to work, but does not come to work due to inclement weather or hazardous driving conditions, there is no need for you to pay the employee. If you close the business due to inclement weather, there is still no need for you to pay hourly or non-exempt employees. You may allow these employees to use sick leave, PTO or vacation pay within company policy, but there is no law that you must do so. The time off can simply be unpaid.
More complex rules apply to exempt salaried employees.
If the business is open and an exempt employee fails to report to work due to driving conditions or bad weather, the employee is not available for work on that day. There is no need for you to pay the employee his or her usual daily wages. However, if the exempt employee works even for a few minutes, even by checking email or taking phone calls at home, he or she must be paid the usual salary for the day. In most states you can require that the employee use PTO, vacation time or sick leave to make up the difference.
If the business is closed for less than a full week usually you must pay exempt employees. An exempt employee must be paid his or her usual salary for the week, if the employee a) performs any work at all during the payroll week and b) is ready, willing and able to work. If the business is closed and you have no work for the exempt employees on a specific day, they must still be paid.
For this reason, you are better off financially if you require exempt employees to report to work, even if the business is closed and the hourly employees are not working. Many employers will do this. For example, retail stores might require the exempt manager to check on the store, even if it is closed. An exempt employee who does not report to work need not be paid, since he or she is not available to work. (Use good judgment here — there may be circumstances where it is too hazardous for employees to report to work.)
Different rules apply if the business is closed for an entire payroll week. Under the federal FLSA, an exempt employee need not be paid when he or she does no work at all during the payroll week. This is true, regardless for the reason behind the lack of work. If your business is closed for an entire payroll week, and the exempt employee does no work at all during that period, there is no need for you to pay the employee at all that week.
Again, state laws vary somewhat. At least one state has recently implemented a law that the employer cannot discipline an employee who fails to report to work when the national weather service has issued a traveler^#39;s advisory recommending that people stay off the roads.
When the governor declares an area a natural disaster zone after a blizzard, flood, tornado, hurricane or other event, very often the out-of-work employees qualify for unemployment benefits and other special assistance.
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