The Department of Labor issues opinion letters which provide guidance for employers to follow in paying exempt employees (who are exempt from overtime pay requirements) during periods of inclement weather. The guidelines are different based upon whether the company is closed because of the weather or whether the company is open and the employee can't get to work or otherwise misses work because of a storm or other weather event.
When Companies Close Because of Weather
Employers who elect to close during such periods must pay the weekly salary for an exempt employee during the closure. Thus, regardless of whether an employee was at work for the entire week, the employee should receive their salary for the week. An employer may require an exempt employee to use accrued leave for days of absence during such a closure, but the employer continues to be obligated to pay the full salary of the exempt employee, regardless of whether the employee has a leave balance. Thus, in the latter case, an employer may be required to use advance leave.
When Companies Stay Open
Employers who remain open during such periods must pay an exempt employee for any partial or whole day the employee reports to work during such periods; however, for days where an exempt employee elects not to report to work, the employer is free to deduct accrued leave for such absences from the employee's leave bank. If the exempt employee is not yet eligible for accrued leave or has exhausted such leave, an employer may make reductions from pay for whole day absences.
For non-exempt employees, who are paid on an hourly basis for hours that are actually worked, federal law does not require non-exempt employees to be paid when they do not come to work due because of bad weather.
However, some states have "reporting time pay" laws that require non-exempt employees be paid for a certain number of hours whenever the employee reports to work as scheduled, even if no work is available. Also, some employers may have a company policy that provides for pay in some cases or may decide to make an exception and pay employees in special circumstances.
Check with your State Department of Labor for regulations in your state.
Notifying Your Employer
If your office is open and can't make it to work, it's important to notify your employer that you won't be able to make it to work.
Unemployment Due to Bad Weather
Workers who are laid-off or otherwise out of work because of bad weather may be eligible for state unemployment benefits or disaster unemployment benefits if there is a weather event that creates a situation where employees can't work.