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When does it become mandatory to close during a blizzard?

The place of business is Chicago, Illinois. We are due for a major blizzard in the next few days. When does it become mandatory for a business to close?

This is a judgment call, rather than a matter of employment law. It is never mandatory for a business to close. This is a decision made by each employer or business owner, not a matter of employment law. Many businesses including gas stations, fast food, hotels, grocery stores, drug stores and convenience stores will stay open in spite of a blizzard. They provide needed services to the community, including police, firefighters, utility workers, health care workers and snow plow operators who must work during a blizzard.

From a business perspective, if your customers will be unable to reach you, or you are without power, then it makes sense to close due to the weather. If there is still a need for your products or services, then it makes sense to stay open.

From an HR standpoint, if you close you are not required to pay hourly or non-exempt workers. They must be paid only for the time they actually work. A business that closes for one or a few days due to inclement weather must pay any exempt employees who were ready, willing and able to work while the business was closed. If an exempt employee phones to say that he or she is not available on a day due to inclement weather or transportation issues, he or she need not be paid for that day. (Assuming the exempt employee does no work at all that day, not even checking email from home.) When a business is closed for an entire payroll week due to a flood, power outage or other natural disaster, there is no need to pay an exempt employee who does no work at all that week. This is true, even if the exempt employee was ready, willing and able to work.

However, an exempt employee who does any work at all during the day, even checking his email from home, is entitled to his usual salary for the day.

One of our advisers lived in Chicago until recently. We will say that snow removal is very efficient in that area, and it is unusual for businesses to be closed or employees to be absent due to weather, although the major blizzard forcasted for later this week may be an exception.

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This entry was posted on Monday, January 31st, 2011 at 10:07 am and is filed under
Compensation, Human Resources Management, Workplace Management.
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2 Responses to “When does it become mandatory to close during a blizzard?”

  1. Ronda Says:

    greetings, good weblog, and a very good understand! one for my favorites.

  2. Caitlin Says:

    Thanks for the kind words, Ronda!~ Caitlin

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