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  • Writer's pictureJennie Tannenbaum

Tis’ the Season for Snowstorm Business Closings

It was another fresh blanket of pure snow and the fourth storm in the past two weeks in New England. The notification alert sounded on her phone after she had already arrived for her shift at work when Matilda received the notice from her employer that she should stay home from work because of the snowstorm. Matilda rolling her eyes wondered if she would be paid for that four hour shift, since she was notified after she arrived at work to not report to work.

When weather conditions become severe employers may choose to shut down their business completely or for part of the day. In Massachusetts when a non-exempt employee one that is covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) who is entitled to overtime wages, is scheduled to work a minimum of three hours and who reports to work must be paid for at least the three hours at the state minimum wage rate, even if the business closes early because of bad weather, such as, a snowstorm. Because Matilda is a non-exempt employee who was scheduled to work four hours and she showed up for work, she must be paid the state minimum wage rate of $12.00 for three of those four hours she had been scheduled even though she did not work any hours that shift as a result of the snowstorm.

If Matilda’s employer had chosen to remain open rather than shutting down the business because of the snowstorm and Matilda chose not to go to work because she believed that the roads were too dangerous for her to drive to work, she would not be paid. The rule is that non-exempt employees are not paid for hours not worked when the employer remains open for business and the employer chose not to go to work.

Exempt employees under the FLSA are those who are paid a minimum of $23,600.00 per year on a salary basis and perform exempt duties. For any exempt employees (unlike Matilda) who is non-exempt the FLSA generally doesn’t allow any deductions from wages for weather related closings of less than a full week. Employers can require that exempt employees use their vacation or paid time off to cover related closings. This is true even if the employee has not yet acquired enough paid leave to cover the time missed from work. The employer has to still pay the employee their full salary.

If an employer chooses to remain open in severe weather and the exempt employee chooses not to go to work the employer may deduct the full day from the employee’s salary or the employer could allow the employee to use their paid leave to cover the day, so that the employee would still receive their full salary. If an employee who has chosen not to come into work due to bad weather and the employer remains open and the employee performs any work from home, such as, checking e-mails or making phone calls, the employee must be paid their full salary.

Because winter has just begun and there are more snowstorms to come, you need to know when employees should be paid as a result of weather related business closings. If you fail to pay them in accordance with the law you are leaving the business open to lawsuits. If you are unsure if your employees should be paid contact Simply Good Law to help you make this determination.

This article is for information purposes only and is not meant to be construed as legal advice. For more information or discussion contact me at or at 978-681-0017.

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