Before that first big snowstorm strikes, take a few minutes to review your policy on attendance and pay during inclement weather. Having a written policy that’s been distributed to all employees will help everyone avoid misunderstandings and can also serve as a checklist if it becomes necessary to close.
The weather-related question employers most often ask us at CBIA is whether they have to pay employees if bad weather forces their business to close or makes traveling to work difficult. As a general rule, nonexempt employees must be paid only for the hours they actually work, with the exception of hotel, restaurant and retail workers. Restaurants and hotels must pay non-exempts for at least two hours if the employees report to work and the business closes early due to bad weather; retail establishments must pay for at least four hours. There is no obligation to pay hotel, restaurant or retail non-exempts if the weather does not allow the business to open at all or if the employees are unable to report because of travel conditions.
Exempt employees (managerial, administrative, professional) who work any part of the day, must be paid for the entire day, according to the Connecticut Department of Labor. Hourly employees who would not otherwise be paid may also be offered the option of using paid accrued time.
Pay Practices Among CBIA Members
According to a recent CBIA survey of 430 member companies, the most common practice when bad weather forces a closing is to pay hourly employees only for the hours actually worked. This was true for a majority of both small employers (25 to 249 employees) and large employers (over 250 employees). Nonexempt office employees are more likely to be paid for a full eight hours than are nonexempt production employees. About 15% of the respondents reported paying production employees for a full eight hours, while nearly 35% said they pay office employees.
Other Policy Points
Your policy may also need to cover the following:
- General approach. Many policies state a general approach to closing, such as, “We are always open unless the state government closes.” Your type of business may determine whether this approach is suitable. For example, if you are a pharmacy, you will probably want to be open during inclement weather; if you are a clothing retail store, you may not want to be open during bad weather because you will not have any customers.
- Notification of closing. Determine how employees will be notified of a closing. You might require them to listen to a particular radio station for an announcement, phone a supervisor, check a voice-mail message, and so on.
- Key jobs. Depending on the nature of your business, it may be that only key employees need to report for work during bad weather. Health care workers at a nursing home, for example, will have to be on duty, but the business office may be able to close.
- Who decides. Your policy should specify who has the authority to close your operations. A large organization or one with several work sites may need to authorize more than one person.
- Safety. Consider stating that employees should not endanger themselves trying to get to work during bad weather. This may help you avoid problems should an employee be injured on the way to work.