Inclement Weather and Your Payroll Obligations
Hurricanes, storms, tornadoes, blizzards, floods and other weather-related disasters can cause inclement weather closures. But even if one of these calamities causes your business to close, your employees must still be paid on their next regularly scheduled payday if they did any work during the pay period.
To ensure accurate payment, you'll need to take federal and applicable state laws into consideration.
Nonexempt Employees and Inclement Weather
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) says that employers must pay nonexempt employees for all hours worked. Therefore, you do not need to pay these employees for business closures, including those caused by inclement weather. However, if a nonexempt employee shows up and works for two hours before your business closes due to inclement weather, he or she must be paid for two hours for that day.
Under the FLSA, you can require that nonexempt employees use their available paid time off to cover time missed due to inclement weather. However, some states do not allow employers to mandate that employees use their accrued PTO as a substitute in these instances, so be sure to check your state's stance on this issue.
Also, some states have "reporting time" pay laws, which require that employers pay nonexempt employees for a minimum number of hours if they arrive at work as scheduled but are sent home early.
Exempt Employees and Inclement Weather
According to the FLSA, employers must pay exempt employees their full salary for any workweek in which they perform any work. The FLSA permits certain deductions to be made from exempt employees' salaries, but business closures aren't one of them. Therefore, if your business closes for less than one week due to inclement weather, exempt employees must receive their full salary for that week if they did any work at all during that week.
You do not have to pay exempt employees if the business closes for the entire week and they performed no work during that week.
As is the case with nonexempt employees, the FLSA allows you to require that exempt employees use their accrued PTO for inclement weather closings. But, as stated, you'll need to check state law, since not all states allow this substitution.
With regard to exempt employees who have exhausted their PTO, you must still pay them their full salary for the workweek if they do any work during that time. But you don't have to pay them anything if they perform no work for the week and have no available PTO to cover the missed days.
Paychecks don't have to be delayed because of inclement weather
You can't control the weather, but you can take measures to ensure your employees are paid on time when disaster strikes. A large majority of U.S. workers are paid by direct deposit, so making sure paychecks are handed out is moot. Offer this service if you aren't doing so already, and encourage employees to take advantage of it.