The winter season, especially when it snows, uncovers certain familiar things, like snow blowers, snow shovels, gravel-like salt, muscle strain, power outages, and questions about the effects of inclement weather on pay.
One common question managers have after a heavy snowfall goes like this.
“If we close due to bad weather conditions, and employees cannot get to work, do we have to pay them?”
The answer: Probably not, but it depends!
Exempt and non-exempt employees may have to be treated a little bit differently here.
Exempt employees have to receive their full weekly salaries no matter what. Employers can require their exempt employees to use paid leave, but salaries may not be docked for absences occasioned by the employer. Closing your doors, due to bad weather is an occasion by the employer. So, exempt employees must be paid.
Non-exempt employees on the other hand only have to be paid for the time they actually spend working. So whether the employer closes shop or not, if the non-exempt employee does not do work, the non-exempt employee does not have to be paid. And shoveling snow at home, though indeed work, is not work for which the employer has to pay an employee. So, non-exempt employees do not have to be paid.
When the employer is actually open, but the employee just can’t get to work, the employer can dock the salary in full day increments only when the exempt employee has used up all their paid leave. (In the earlier scenario, the employer can’t dock pay even if the employee has exhausted their paid leave.) Again, nothing is new with non-exempts. They get paid for the time spent doing work…and I don’t mean shoveling…unless they’re job is to shovel…for you… you know what I mean.