What Employers Should Know About Weather Related Absences

This post was contributed by Rick L. Etter, Esq., an Associate in McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC's Labor and Employment Group.

Given the increase in major weather events that have impacted Pennsylvania recently, including high winds and substantial flooding, employers should consider the following issues that may arise when closings, delays, and absences are caused by inclement weather.

Must employees be paid when the business is closed because of inclement weather?

Nonexempt employees need not be paid for time when they do not work because the business is closed. Exempt employees must be paid their salary for the week regardless of the business closing. An employer may require exempt employees to use accrued paid time off.

Must employees be paid if they don’t report to work due to inclement weather when the business is open?

Nonexempt employees need not be paid for the time they are absent from work. Exempt employees need not be paid for a whole day absence taken due to inclement weather. An exempt employee absent for part of a day may be required to use accrued paid time off. However, if the exempt employee has no accrued paid time off, his or her salary may not be docked for a partial day absence.

May an employee be disciplined or discharged for failing to report to work due to weather conditions when the business is open?

An employer may generally apply its normal attendance policy to weather related absences. However, there is one major exception. Under Pennsylvania law, an employer may not discipline or discharge an employee who fails to report to work due to the closure of the roads in the county of the employer's place of business or the county of the employee's residency, if the road closure is the result of a state of emergency. The law does not apply to the following jobs: drivers of emergency vehicles, essential corrections personnel, police, emergency service personnel, hospital and nursing home staffs, pharmacists, essential health care professionals, public utility personnel, employees of radio or television stations engaged in the gathering and dissemination of news, road crews and oil and milk delivery personnel.

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