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Human Resources Tip of the Month

Winter Weather Woes

Helen Sorrentino

Thursday, January 23, 2014 • 10:57am

Winter is in full swing and with that comes all the ups and downs of unpredictable weather. Storms, snow, ice, and severe cold bring everything from power outages to road closures. These unexpected issues can quickly become problems for employers and their employees.

What happens when a business needs to close because of severe weather? How do employers handle pay related issues for employees who are unable to make it into work? Can an employer use PTO to cover an employee's missed shift?  These are just a few questions that arise when the weather goes south.

Luckily for employers the DOL does have some basic guidelines to help brave the effects of nasty winter weather on one’s business, and with some planning ahead, any confusion regarding payroll can be avoided altogether.

Guideline #1 Business Closings:

According to The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), you may not reduce the pay of any exempt employee based on the quantity or quality of his/her work or when he/she is ready, willing and able to work but there is no work available. Based on this, employers who must shut down for less than 1 week due to bad weather must pay their employees their regular wages.  It does not, however, prohibit an employer from deducting from an employee's PTO. The employer should keep in mind though that this can often lead to a drop in morale and frustration in the workplace.

Guideline #2 Employee Absences:

The FSLA also offers guidance to an employer who chooses to open but has an employee who is unable to make it in. The DOL states: “Deductions from salary for less than a full day's absence are not permitted for such a reason under regulations. If an exempt employee is absent for one and a half days due to adverse weather conditions, the employer may deduct only for the full day absence and the employee must receive a full day's pay for the partial day worked.” 

An employer does not have to pay an exempt employee if they are absent for a full day of work due to poor weather conditions, however they must be careful when dealing with partial day absences.

Guideline #3 Planning Ahead:

In order to avoid any misunderstandings altogether an employer can review payroll policies affected by bad weather. Employees who are informed ahead of time of the company’s policies are better equipped to make decisions and provisions for unexpected weather conditions.

There are bound to be issues that arise when the weather turns ugly. Being prepared and having the right knowledge can help alleviate some of the stress for employers when handling weather related woes.

Helen M. Sorrentino is the owner and Managing Member of HR Practices, LLC, a Human Resources consulting firm. She started the company is 2009 to respond to the needs of the small business owner with an employee base between two (2)-fifty (50) employees in New Jersey and New York City.

Helen has 20+ years of experience in Human Resource management working within diverse industries such as engineering and manufacturingapparel, biotechnical, printing, music and telemarketingIn past her HR roles she provided support to all levels of management in training, organizational development, coaching, planning and all areas of Human Resources.  These companies ranged from an employee base of less than forty (40) employees up to seventy-five hundred (7500) employees and represented such industries as engineering, apparel, telemarketing and biomedical.

Helen holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Kean University; a Master of Arts from Montclair University and a Master’s of Science degree in Human Resources Management from Upsala College.  Helen stays current by taking continuing education courses via seminars and webinars encompassing state and federal labor law compliance, policies/procedures, health care reform and all areas of employee relations to recruiting and background checks  to terminating employees to responding to EEOC, DOL, Wage & Hour, OSHA and ICE audits

HR Practices LLC is currently a member of the below professional organizations:

A few of the industries represented by HR Practices’ clients are; apparel, medical billing; doctors’ offices; biotechnical; printing; electrical contractors; non-profit organizations, day care business; cosmetics, physical therapy and other consulting businesses.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

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