Can I Dock Employees for Inclement Weather Days?
As winter approaches and those of us in the Dallas area wonder if we are in for a repeat of last year’s snow storms, employers may start thinking about those days they probably had to close around the time of the Superbowl. They may wonder if they have to pay employees for those days. I can tell you our firm made a change in its policy. Perhaps you should too.
How and when you choose to close your business due to bad weather is up to you. Some businesses, like hospitals and emergency clinics can’t close, but others like banks (which seem to be closed every other day anyway) aren’t so hard pressed.
But, what obligations do you have to pay your employees for those days? If they are hourly, clearly, you have no obligations. They don’t clock in and don’t get paid. Salary employees are a little different depending on whether you characterize them as exempt from overtime (See the previous posts Overtime and Exemptions from Overtime).
Salary employees who are not exempt may have their pay docked for days that you close the business. Exempt salary employees must be paid for the entire week for any week that they work at all, or you risk losing their exempt status. Before you get aggravated at this, remember that the exempt status frees you from the obligation to pay overtime to these employees so it probably balances out in the long run.
What you can do on inclement weather days is make salaried exempt employees take a vacation day – if they have any available. If they don’t and the exempt employee worked one day that week it is tough luck on you because you still have to pay. You cannot, however, take this step without putting these employees on notice of the policy. So, put it in your employee handbook.