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HR Policy – How Should You Handle Inclement Weather?

By March 14, 2012 February 19th, 2015 No Comments

young business woman walking on a tightropeBeautiful weather and employee absences may make inclement weather closing the last thing you are thinking about.  However, when the weather changes (and it will), it’s important to have an inclement weather policy.  Do you have one?

An HR policy on office closing due to natural disaster or weather should include information about alerts.  How will you communicate that your office is closed?  Do you have a ‘dark’ website, an email system, a text message system?  Be sure that you do have a way to tell your associates what the expectation is, and that the associates understand what that method is.

Even though employees may be grateful that they are not expected to be in the office due to weather conditions, they will want to know whether they can anticipate being paid.  It’s important to be clear and specific and have a policy created that explains whether the associate should expect to be paid or not.

Although you can establish your own policy, be aware of the FLSA (Federal Fair Labor Standards Act) when creating your policy as well as any specific state mandated compensation.  While these laws may change periodically, the responsibility is upon the employer to know what the law is, and to adhere to that standard.

Non-exempt employees must be paid for the hours worked, but not the hours they didn’t work. If the non-exempt worker leaves early, comes in late, or decides to stay home they are only paid for the hours they worked. Also, if the company elects to close, the non-exempt employees are only compensated for the time they actually worked.

If your HR policy allows, non-exempts can receive pay for time not worked if they have accrued leave.

State laws vary, and some states do require non-exempt employees be paid a minimum amout of time if they make the effort to come in despite the weather, and as laws do change, it’s important to know what legislation in your state dictates.  You can create a policy that is more favorable to the employees as a business decision.  Again, this is an area that should be covered by HR policy.

Since exempt employees (as defined by the FLSA) are compensated based upon a salary, if they work a partial day or arrive late, their compensation is  typically not affected.  As an employer, you may debit their accrued leave but be sure to have this stated in the HR policy.  If there is no accrued leave available, they are still entitled to their full salary.

If the company closes for a full workweek, exempts need not be paid.  Many time employers will not require a deduction from an accrued leave bank in cases of inclement weather/office closings – but this should be clearly defined in the policy.

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