"Don't Come In To Work Today"

by Fisher Phillips

Even here in Maine, where we take pride in not letting winter slow us down, there are days when it just doesn’t make sense to get out of the house. This past winter was a tough one to say the least – for much of the country it was one of the worst on record. Recent rains in parts of the west raise the specter of flooding and mudslides, and in the south hurricane season begins in June.

Employers may want to put a policy in place to address those occasions when, due to the weather or other emergency, the workplace must be closed or particular employees can’t make it to work. In implementing such policies, you’ll also need to take into account differing legal rules regarding leave time, and payment to exempt and nonexempt employees under both the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and state law.

The Basics

A Weather/Emergency Closing Policy should address not only winter weather circumstances but any other weather event or emergency that would force a workplace closure. Your policy should address possible grounds for closure, such as snowfall levels, loss of power, hurricanes, governor-declared shut downs, and so on. Depending on your circumstances, certain events could constitute an automatic closure or put employees on notice that they need to check in or take other steps to determine whether there is a closure. Your policy should include means for employee notification, such as call or text trees, radio-station announcements, website or twitter notices, and so on.

You should also address situations in which particular employees may not be able to make it to work, for example, due to local road closings or power outages, unsafe driving conditions, and so on. Advise employees that they should not attempt to travel to work in unsafe conditions, and that they should take steps to notify their supervisors as soon as possible. Your policy should also address whether and to what extent employees may (or must) work from home.

In addition, there may be times when you will want to close your facility early due to weather conditions, and your policy should address how that decision will be made and how employees will be paid for partial-day closings.

Important Details

How you pay your employees in the event of a closing or inability to make it to work will depend on whether the affected employees are exempt or nonexempt under applicable wage and hour laws. Remember, wage and hour laws are fact specific, and these guidelines offer general rules only.

In general, you cannot dock an exempt employee’s salary unless the employee chooses to miss a full day for personal reasons. So, if you are forced to close your office for the day due to the weather, you cannot deduct a day of pay from your exempt employees’ salaries. On the other hand, if your office is open, you may (but you do not have to) deduct a day of pay from exempt employees’ salaries if the exempt employees are unable to report to work.

If your workplace is closed for only a partial day, or if exempt employees leave early to get a head start on a storm, you may not make a partial deduction from your exempt employees’ salaries (although you may make a deduction from the exempt employees’ paid leave banks for the partial day of missed work).

Conversely, you generally do not need to pay nonexempt employees for any time that they do not report to work – whether or not the workplace is closed or the particular nonxempt employees are unable to make it to work. But you may choose to implement minimum report-for-duty pay rules, such as guaranteeing at least four hours of pay if an employee reports to work but is then sent home early due to weather (or other) conditions. Collective-bargaining agreements will likely affect your leeway in such cases.  And remember that in making these types of decisions, you should consider employee morale and expectations, in addition to what you may or may not do under the law.

In implementing your policy, remember to consider employee injuries and transportation accidents, power outages and loss of electronic communications, responsibility for employee notifications, back-up energy requirements, and addressing conditions in and around the workplace. For additional safety information, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) offers helpful information on conditions that lead to stress, frostbite, and hypothermia: https://www.osha.gov/Publications/osha3156.pdf .

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Fisher Phillips | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Fisher Phillips

Fisher Phillips on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.