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SHRM Quotes Sarah Pawlicki on Winter Storm Wage and Hour Questions

12/12/22

Woman's face in windshield as she scrapes ice from car.As winter approaches, it is time for employers to review their policies on how employees will be compensated during inclement weather. In “Winter Storms Bring Flurry of Wage and Hour Questions,” (published by SHRM), Eastman & Smith member Sarah E. Pawlicki, discussed the rules on employee compensation when the workplace is closed due to weather. Ms. Pawlicki discussed when pay is and is not owed and considerations on whether to require employees to use accrued vacation time to cover the hours not worked.

“The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to pay nonexempt employees for all hours worked,” Ms. Pawlicki said. “Therefore, if an office or plant is closed and a nonexempt employee doesn't perform any work, no pay is due.”

Even though the FLSA allows employers to require employees to use vacation time while the workplace is closed, Ms. Pawlicki advised them to consider the impact of doing so on employee morale. Many employees will have already made plans for what they intend to do with their vacation days and may become disgruntled if they must change their plans. She also cautioned that employees may become upset if they learn that they were required to use vacation time while their coworker, who had already used their vacation time, was not required to do so.

Ms. Pawlicki also noted that if nonexempt employees do any work while the workplace is closed, they are required to be paid. If employees performed nonauthorized work, they may be subject to disciplinary action.

Regarding exempt employees, Ms. Pawlicki said, “exempt employees who are otherwise available for work but can't because the office or plant is closed must be paid their regular salary if they perform any work in that workweek.” She advised that these employees can be required to work from home because they must be paid anyway.

Ms. Pawlicki has a broad range of employment experience, partnering with human resource professionals to make workplaces better (and legally compliant). Her experience encompasses collective bargaining and grievance issues, employment law compliance and workers' compensation law. She is a Society for Human Resource Management Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP. Additionally, she co-authored, “Winter Weather Workers’ Compensation Advisory:  The Forecast Calls for Slips and Falls in the Company Parking Lot.” For questions concerning inclement weather policies, please contact Ms. Pawlicki.