Long Island is prone to Nor’Easters and other significant snow and weather events. A popular question is whether employers must pay their employees when the business closes due to snow or other inclement weather. Today’s Long Island employment law blog discusses pay issues related to weather emergencies.
In New York, employees are covered primarily by two laws which concern how employers pay employees. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal law which sets requirements for minimum wage and overtime. The New York Labor Law (NYLL) is New York’s counterpart to the FLSA and similarly sets a minimum wage in New York, overtime rules, and other pay related rules such as frequency of payments.
Both laws separate employees into two categories — exempt and non-exempt. A full discussion of how employees are categorized as exempt or non-exempt is beyond the scope of today’s blog, but more information can be found here. For purposes of today’s discussion about pay for snow days, exempt employees are generally salaried employees who are not eligible for overtime pay. Non-exempt employees are workers who are paid hourly and who should be receiving overtime pay for hours worked over forty in a week. With these principles in mind, we can turn to the question of whether workers should be paid for a snow day.
Non-exempt employees (hourly employees) must generally be paid only for hours worked. So, if the worker does not work on a snow day, then the employer is not required to pay the employee for the day. There is no distinction between whether the business is closed by the employer or if the employee chooses not to report to work for safety or other concerns. Employees must be mindful, however, that if the business is open and the employer expects employees to report to work, that if the worker does not report to work, then the employee may be subject to discipline or reprimand by the employer. Non-exempt employees who report to work but are sent home, must be paid for any hours worked.
Exempt employees are a trickier question. Exempt employees are paid a salary and employers risk converting their exempt employees into non-exempt employees if they improperly dock a salaried employee’s pay. Generally, employers cannot dock an exempt employee’s salary if that employee works part of the workweek or workday. In other words, employers cannot dock the salary of an exempt employee who works Monday through Thursday, but not Friday because of a snow storm. Similarly, if the exempt employee works for a few hours on Monday, but is then sent home before the end of the day because of a snow closure, the employer cannot deduct pay for those hours the business closed. Businesses may, however, require that exempt employees use accrued vacation or other leave time. In sum, a good general rule of thumb is that salaried employees must be paid for a snow day and non-exempt employees do not have to be paid if they do not work, even if the business closes for a snow day.
Both the FLSA and NYLL have numerous exemptions, exceptions, and other pitfalls. Today’s employment law blog about snow day pay should not be accepted as legal advice for any particular situation, but rather should be used for general informational purposes. If you are an employer who is unsure about whether you should pay your employees for a snow day, we are available to discuss your particular situation. Similarly, if you are an employee who believes you should have been paid for a snow day, we can review your case.
Famighetti & Weinick, PLLC are Long Island employment lawyers. We are experienced in wage, salary, and pay matters and offer free consultations to discuss your questions about payment of wages, whether it be for a snow storm or weather emergency, or whether your question relates to the regular payment of wages. Our employment lawyers are available at 631-352-0050 or on the internet at http://linycemploymentlaw.com.
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