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 opts to stay home.
Company Closings 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 advance leave.
Companies Which 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 to inclement 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. Check with your State Department of Labor for regulations in your state.