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.
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
- 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.
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