If The Office Is Closed Due To Hurricane Sandy, Will You Be Paid?

With Hurricane Sandy on its way, AOL Jobs is republishing this story.

With a hurricane bearing down on the East Coast, I thought it would be important to address what the employer's obligations are if they close the office due to a natural disaster. Whether an employee is entitled to be paid when the office is closed depends on whether they are "exempt" salaried or not.

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If an employee is salaried, it doesn't necessarily mean they are "exempt" from the requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act. A federal regulation deals with this and other types of missed work for salaried exempt workers.

Exempt employees: If the employee is exempt and they worked any portion of the work week, they have to be paid their entire salary, whether or not the office is closed for a natural disaster such as snow, hurricane, or flood. Further, the regulations state, "If the employee is ready, willing and able to work, deductions may not be made for time when work is not available." This would include natural disasters, so if the employee is able to work after a natural disaster, then they need to be paid even if they didn't work any portion of the week.

Non-exempt employees: If the employee is non-exempt, then they don't need to be paid for the time the office is closed. However, if you take deductions from a non-exempt salaried employee it may affect the way overtime is calculated. Exempt workers must fall into very specific categories. These include:

  • Movie theater employees
  • Live-in domestic employees
  • Farmworkers on small farms
  • Railroad employees (they are covered by the Railway Labor Act)
  • Truck drivers, loaders, helpers and mechanics (covered under the Motor Carriers Act)
  • Computer professionals making at least $27.63/hour
  • Commissioned sales employees who average at least 1.5 times minimum wage/hour
  • Auto dealer salespeople
  • Mechanics and parts-people
  • Seasonal and recreational workers
  • Executives.
  • Learned professions
  • Creative employees
  • Administrative employees

For more details on whether an employee is exempt, check out my prior article on exempt employees.

So, be careful out there. If you run a company, do your hurricane preparations early, keep a close watch on the hurricane's track and make sure your people are safe. Just don't forget to make sure you're paying everyone who needs to be paid while you're closed.

Next: Salaried Workers, Do You Get Overtime Pay? Odds Are You Should!

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Donna Ballman

Donna Ballman


Donna Ballman’s book, Stand Up For Yourself Without Getting Fired: Resolve Workplace Crises Before You Quit, Get Axed or Sue the Bastards, was the Winner of the Law Category of the 2012 USA Best Books Awards and is currently available for purchase. Donna is the award-winning author of The Writer’s Guide to the Courtroom: Let’s Quill All the Lawyers, a book geared toward informing novelists and screenwriters about the ins and outs of the civil justice system. She’s been representing executives, physicians and employees in Florida, including negotiating severance agreements and litigating discrimination, sexual harassment, noncompete agreements, and other employment law issues since 1986. Her blog on employee-side employment law issues, Screw You Guys, I’m Going Home, was named one of the 2011, 2012 and 2013 ABA Blawg 100 best legal blogs, Paralegal 411’s Top 25 Labor and Employment law Blogs of 2013 and the 2011 Lexis/Nexis Top 25 Labor and Employment Law Blogs.

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clare luce

My employer closed the office and forced all of us to work from home during hurricane sandy. And is now saying that we have to make up the hours we missed by working on a six-day week next month. Is this legal? For the record I am not a manager.

October 30 2012 at 4:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to clare luce's comment

They have to pay you for the hours you worked from home. If they make you work overtime to "make up" hours, then they have to pay you time and a half for all hours worked over 40 per week.

October 30 2012 at 7:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Welcome King

Wish I still had my job.

October 29 2012 at 10:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This depends upon the employer, it is an individule decision.

October 29 2012 at 5:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Im a temp employee for a city company through an agency called GoodTemps. Would I or any other temp employee from any and all temp agencies? Does anyone know this answer?

October 29 2012 at 1:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to shfmec0413's comment

No. Temp agencies only get paid when you work. You don't work the temp agency doesn't get paid and can't pay you.

October 29 2012 at 3:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

i used to work in a factory that if you didnt come to work, even if the roads were closed due to weather. you were fired. they expected you to drive and risk a ticket or sliding into a snow bank. mind you this is northeastern ohio were they do close down whole towns when its to dangerous to drive......

October 29 2012 at 12:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to a.hiegel's comment


October 29 2012 at 3:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If they did that in Florida during a dangerous hurricane, I think they get fined for it. The police will turn you around if they see you on the road.

October 29 2012 at 6:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Regardless of the labor laws; if your boss doesn't pay you, and you make a formal complaint to the NLRB; Be very careful. He/She can, at any point fire you for any reason! Just hope you have a fair and honest employer. More likely, a larger company will pay you to protect their image. It will be hit or miss with a small employer.

October 29 2012 at 12:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Arcee351's comment

Not true. Only in right to work states does a company not have to have a legislatively controlled reason to terminate.

October 29 2012 at 3:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to rickahight's comment

Unfortunately, rickahight, only one state in the nation, Montana, is not an at-will state (right to work has to do with whether or not you have to join a union). Every state but Montana is at-will, meaning you can be fired for any reason or no reason at all. However, if you complain to NLRB, your complaint is legally protected against retaliation. If you are fired for filing, you can go back to NLRB and ask for relief.

October 30 2012 at 7:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down

Labor laws concerning these things was written and passed many years ago...Nothing to do with current administration. I love the way you people pop off about so many labor issues... and if you lose your job through no fault of your own please opt out of unemployment benefits or anything else that just might help you survive. I know you are not part of the 1% .....

October 29 2012 at 8:11 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Isn't that the reason government exist? To take care of people? What is money for anyway? If is going to be spent on other third world countries why not spend that money on us. Jobs have left our country so now we should be paid for staying home and enjoy the easy life.

October 29 2012 at 8:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to madfam004's comment

Ditto! Vote for Obama! he will get all the rich peoples money and redistribute to all the liberals.

When he runs out of other peoples money he will blame it on Bush.

October 29 2012 at 3:27 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Sure, our government should pick up the tab until businesses are rebuilt and workers are back to work.

October 29 2012 at 7:58 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to madfam004's comment

And that money comes from who?

October 29 2012 at 3:27 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to rickahight's comment

The sad part is that people like that think that Obama pays them out of his pocket. You can't fix stupid

October 29 2012 at 9:10 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down

No work no pay. What kind of business can pay you for not working? Maybe Macy's could send you a bill for not shopping there today. This everyone is ENTITLED stupidity is ruining the country. Socialism doesn't work. it leads to Communism. You get Cuba where another Harvard grad is in charge. Maybe you would like Chavez better. He's Harvard too.

October 29 2012 at 7:19 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to rjen164497's comment


October 29 2012 at 3:28 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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