Oregon’s recent snow “event” is a good reason for employers to familiarize themselves with wage and hour issues implicated by weather-related work closures.
Generally, hourly employees are not entitled to pay for hours they do not work. If the office closes for weather-related reasons, hourly employees do not get paid. Employers can choose to pay employees for days when the office is closed because of the weather, but are not legally obligated to do so. Employers can also allow employees to make-up missed time by working extra hours or on weekends. Where this option is provided, employers need to make sure employees keep track of “extra” time worked, take breaks as required, and do not end up working unauthorized overtime.
For exempt employees, pay will depend upon whether the employer closes the office. If the office is closed, the employer must pay exempt employees their full salary. If, however, the office is open, but an exempt employee elects to stay home because of the weather, the employer does not have to pay the exempt employee for the full-day absence because the employee is absent from work for personal reasons other than sickness or disability. The exempt employee could choose to use PTO or vacation to get paid for the full-day absence, but the employer is not required to pay the employee.
Employers also need to be mindful of whether employees are working from home on days when the office is closed because of bad weather. Hourly employees must keep track of time worked from home so they can be paid for that time, and exempt employees who choose to work from home rather than traveling to the office, should be paid their full salary.
The last storm is a great excuse for employers to review and update inclement weather policies to reflect how weather-related absences will be treated.