Non Exempt (Hourly) Employees
Employers are only required to pay non-exempt employees for hours actually worked. In other words, businesses are not required to pay non-exempt employees if they are not working, including times when the employer closes its doors or reduces hours of operation, whether or not forced to do so by inclement weather or emergencies.
However, in California “reporting time pay” is required to be paid to employees who show up for work and are turned away at the door or dismissed before the end of their scheduled shifts, by the employer. Reporting time pay requires the employer to pay the employee one half of their scheduled shift, no more than four hours, no fewer than two hours. That said, if work is interrupted by an act of God or other causes not within the employer’s control, reporting time pay requirements are not applicable.
Nonetheless, even if your business is not open due to weather, flooding or any other natural disaster you are always free to pay employees for that time, and may also permit them to use their paid sick leave time or vacation time.
Unusual Remote Work
Often severe weather, road closures or other delays can result in an employee being stranded on the road or at home. Remember, any employee who performs work for the business, such as taking phone calls or answering e-mails, must be compensated for that time even if done away from the office.
Pay for Exempt (Salaried) Employees
Exempt employees under the FLSA must be paid on a “salary basis” and earn a full day’s pay when they work any part of the day, regardless of the quality or quantity of the work performed. This means that if a business is closed because of inclement weather or other natural disasters and an exempt employee is ready, willing, and able to work, he/she must be paid for that day. If an exempt employee does not work for an entire workweek (for personal reasons or because the business is closed), the exempt employee need not be paid for that time.
If the business is open and an exempt employee elects to stay home to make repairs or handle personal business, an employer may “dock” their salary in full day increments. In these instances, and including situations when exempt employees elect to arrive late or leave early for personal reasons, employers may also deduct accrued leave time in full or partial day increments as long as the employee receives his or her full pay for the week.
On-Call and Waiting Time Pay
Power outages are common during natural disasters, and many employers will require their employees to wait out or work through such power failures. In most cases, any employee who is required to remain at the employer’s premises or close by and therefore unable to use that time for his own benefit must be compensated for that time. When you “restrict” an employee’s time, they are eligible for compensation.
Why Volunteering is Not a Good Idea
Employers should avoid having non-exempt employees “volunteer” to assist during an emergency, particularly if those duties benefit the company. Exempt employees who volunteer to help will not be entitled to any additional compensation.
Non-exempt employees must be paid for all time worked, even if they offer to work and help make repairs for “free,” with one exception: Employers may accept free work from employees of government or non-profit agencies who volunteer out of public-spiritedness to perform work that is not at all similar to their regular duties.