Can Emergencies Afftect How You Pay Employees?

We don’t often get hurricane damage here in Ohio, but it did happen with Hurricane Ike in 2008 when 78 mph winds whipped through the area tearing off roofs, blowing down trees and leaving millions without power. We’ve also been known to get hit by tornadoes and blizards. So how does this affect you as an employer or an employee. Check out the short article below by David Baron of the Law Firm Cozen O’Connor. Keep in mind that “exempt” employees means “salaried” while “non-exempt” means employees who are paid by the hour.


Mr David Barron
Cozen O’Connor

With the hurricane hitting the East Coast and creating havoc for businesses trying to rebuild as quickly as possible, it is important to remember that there are no emergency exceptions to wage and hour laws. When a company goes into crisis mode, it is important to maintain the normal safeguards and policies that ensure the proper calculation of work time and payment of overtime.

The following are a few tips to avoid the common mistakes and pitfalls that employers face during these difficult times:

Employers are only obliged to pay non-exempt workers for actual hours worked. If weather shuts down their place of employment, the employer is typically not required to pay any wages, absent a contractual agreement. Exempt employees, however, must be paid for their entire work week if they perform any work during the week and they are prevented from working because of no fault of their own (i.e. the business is closed because of weather).

Consider allowing or requiring employees to use vacation or other accrued time for weather related absences. Absent a contract or conflicting state laws, an employer typically has flexibility in this area as long as the policy is applied consistently.

Non-exempt employees working from home must be paid.Similarly, non-exempt employees who perform out of the ordinary tasks for the benefit of the employer (like cleanup or repairs) must be paid. An employee typically cannot volunteer to perform work for the benefit of his or her own employer.

Many states have deadlines for providing paychecks to employees. There may be exceptions for emergencies, but some are more rigid. If you have other branches which are operational, consider having checks processed or mailed from other sites to avoid delays.