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14 Oct 2015

FLSA Issues With Adverse Weather Office Closures

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With the coming winter, inclement weather can force companies to close for a day or two, or even a week, depending on the severity of the weather event. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) governs whether or not employees should be paid when a company has to close the workplace due to unforeseen circumstances such as inclement weather. Under FLSA, whether an employee is exempt or non-exempt determines the answer to that question.

Non-Exempt Employees

FLSA is the federal law that governs all aspects of employee compensation, including minimum wage and overtime, and impacts whether employees must be paid for time missed at work because of inclement weather. For employees who are covered by the overtime provisions of the FLSA, if there is no employer policy, agreement, or state law to the contrary, covered employees do not have to be paid for any time they did not work, regardless of the reason. Some employers may choose to pay covered employees for a half-day or more, even if they are only at work for a few hours. Other employers may choose to pay employees for any hours missed because of an office closure due to weather. Some companies may elect to allow employees to use accrued leave during an unforeseen closure. Ultimately, however, these payments are not required by law and are purely discretionary.

Exempt Employees

FLSA exempts from overtime and minimum wage anyone employed in certain executive, administrative, or professional capacities who are paid on a salary basis and compensated at a rate of not less than $455 per week. FLSA regulations require employers to pay exempt employees their full salaries for any week in which work is performed regardless of the number of days or hours worked. However, if there is an entire workweek in which no work is performed, employers do not need to pay exempt employees for that workweek.

Therefore, if an employer closes its office because of inclement weather or other unforeseen emergencies, the employer must pay all exempt employees their full salaries and must not deduct any pay. FLSA provides that if employees are ready, willing, and able to work, deductions may not be made for when work is not available, unless an office is closed for an entire workweek. In that case, an employer may deduct the entire workweek from the employee’s pay. Additionally, an employer with a leave plan may require its exempt employees to use personal, sick, vacation, or paid leave for missed days due to unforeseen closures. However, if the employee has no accrued leave, the employee must still receive his or her guaranteed salary for any absence due to closures. Closure days will become paid days off from work for exempt employees without available vacation time.

Inclement weather closures can cause uncertainty for employees if they are unaware of their status under FLSA. You should call (855) 754-2795 or complete the Free Unpaid Overtime Case Review form on the top right of this page if you believe your wages were unlawfully withheld. Our top-rated team of wage lawyers will evaluate your situation to determine your best course of action. We will also determine if it is in your best interest to file a lawsuit against your employer. There are strict time limitations for filing, so it is important that you call our experienced attorneys today.

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