Inclement Weather and the HR Policy Blizzard...Let it Snow?
Winter weather is upon us – and that means that the dreaded 4-letter word could be right around the corner…. Yes… SNOW! Me personally – NOT a fan of snow (or cold weather for that matter), but as an HR professional, I do know that it is very important for companies (big or small) to have a clearly defined Inclement Weather Policy.
What does this Inclement Weather Policy need to include?
First the policy should include how your employees will find out about office closings due to inclement weather – via an email, a voice mail, a call in number, a text, a tv channel?
Once the communication path is established, the next thing on most employees’ minds is… will I be paid for time missed due to inclement weather?
Each company’s policy should be specific on this subject – and each company can develop it’s own unique policy based on it’s business needs – however… do not forget to consider the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) when establishing your policy. You will also need to consider any state specific wage and hour laws.
Non-exempt employees (as defined by the FLSA) need to be paid for every hour worked, but do not need to be paid for time not worked. So, if non-exempts come in late, leave early, choose to stay home, or if the company chooses to close, they only need to be paid for the time actually worked. Non-exempts can receive pay for time not worked if your company allows them to use accrued leave (which I always recommend in Inclement Weather Policies).
Sometimes, employers elect to pay non-exempt employees for a half-day (or even a full day) even if they are at work for only an hour or two – and often employers will pay non-exempt employees for any hours missed due to an office closing due to inclement weather (but for overtime calculations you only have to count the time they spent working). And again, don’t forget your state laws, because some states have regulations that require employers to pay employees for a minimum amount of time for making the effort to come into work.
Exempt employees (as defined by the FLSA) receive the same salary each week, regardless of the number of hours they work. Exempts who work a partial day due to a late arrival or early departure must still be paid their full salaries; however, you may debit their accrued leave banks for the time not worked (but remember that if they don’t have accrued leave available, they must still receive their full pay). 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.
So, ensure that your HR management team has an Inclement Weather Policy in place and communicate that policy to your employees…and be prepared for the SN*W.
Written By: Cheryl Nathan, Director HR Services