How Should an Employer Handle Pay and Attendance Issues Related to Bad Weather?

Texas gets its share of ice, rain, and snow from time to time, especially in the winter. While every season brings its own weather woes, driving to work in these weather conditions can be especially treacherous and compromise employees’ ability to get to work safely. Snow accumulation on roads may be considerable, given that few municipalities own snowplows. Roads may be closed. In some cases, employees simply may be too scared to drive in such weather.

How do you proceed as an employer when the weather is too unsafe for driving? If an employee does not show up due to safety issues, does he or she still have to be paid? Employment law can be tricky in this regard, but you should know that a couple of main factors apply — employee status and business status.

You also want to keep common sense and reason in mind. While you may not have to pay employees in certain situations, it may be beneficial for workplace morale and/or public relations.

When the Business is Open

Despite weather conditions, a business may remain open. So, what happens when an employee does not come to work? As an employer, must you still pay them?

Exempt employees must be paid their full weekly salary for any week in which they perform any work.  Thus, unless a business is closed for an entire week due to inclement weather, exempt employees must receive their full weekly salary.  That said, an employer can require exempt employees to utilize available PTO for any days missed due to inclement weather. Non-exempt employees who do not come to work are not entitled to any pay.

When the Business is Closed

The general default for exempt employees is if they work any portion of the week – even just to check an email from home – they must be paid, whether the business is open or closed. Non-exempt employees only need to be paid for the hours they actually work. If the business is closed, then the employee does not need to get paid.

For Motor Carrier Employees

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) states that an employer cannot require a motor carrier employee to drive when they are in fear for their safety. A motor carrier employee refers to someone who operates a vehicle transporting people, cargo, or hazardous materials. This would include buses and semi-trucks.

The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) may also come into play in adverse weather situations. Under this act, workers can refuse to work under unsafe conditions. Workers are protected from employer retaliation if they refuse to work due to safety issues.

Remote Work

Many employers have recently created work-from-home policies for their employees. Remote work may be an option for your company, making it easier for employees to “report to work” in inclement weather. If you allow telecommuting, you should clearly communicate expectations to employees and ensure non-exempt employees properly document their hours working from home.

Pay Issues

So how does the employee get paid for adverse weather conditions? It depends on the employee’s status:

  • Non-exempt employees. The FLSA does not require employers to pay non-exempt workers if they do not come to work due to inclement weather. However, check agreements or contracts first.
  • Exempt employees. If the employee is classified as exempt and has worked at least part of the workweek when the adverse weather condition occurred, they are entitled to their full salary for that workweek. You can legally request your employees to work from home, if applicable. If they choose not to, vacation time and paid time off (PTO) may be charged.

Contact Our Frisco Employment Law Attorneys Today

Adverse weather conditions can affect business operations. It is best to follow the rules above, and to be reasonable. The safety of your employees should come first and forcing them to commute to work in hazardous conditions is not good for morale.

If you have further questions about inclement weather policies and the applicable state and federal laws, the employment attorneys at Simon | Paschal PLLC can help. Contact us online today or call (972) 893-9340 to schedule a consultation.

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