Employment Law Update: Pay Issues Caused by Inclement Weather

By Rudman Winchell Attorney

By Anne-Marie Storey

This is (usually) the time of year when inclement weather starts to cause employees to miss time from work.  Employers should recall that there are very specific rules for payment of wages in the event of missed time.

For nonexempt employees, an employer is only required to pay for hours actually worked.  Therefore, if an employee chooses not to come in to work or the business is closed due to bad weather, nonexempt employees do not have to be paid for the time missed.   

The rules are different, though, for exempt employees.   Generally, these employees are paid on a salary basis which means they receive the same set amount per week not subject to fluctuation or deductions.  In applying this general rule to weather-related missed time, the Department of Labor has generally enforced the following rules: 

·         If the employer closes the business due to bad weather but only for part of a week, a salaried exempt employee must be paid their regular salary for the entire week. 

·         If the business is closed for the entire week due to weather, and the exempt employee does no work that week, the employee does not have to be paid for the week. 

·         If the business is open but an exempt employee chooses not to work for a full day due to bad weather, this is considered by the DOL to be an absence for a personal reason and a deduction for a full missed day of work can be made.

·         If the business is open but an exempt employee works only a partial day due to bad weather, the employee must be paid for the entire day.  So, for instance, if an exempt employee is late to work or leaves work early because of weather-related transportation problems or because school is closed, he/she must be paid his/her regular full day’s pay. 

In determining whether an exempt employee has worked any part of a day, employers must keep in mind that work does not just include what is done in the physical workplace.  It will likely also include activity performed from home and/or from any remote computer-related device and that time has to be factored into the decision as to whether pay is due.


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