Winter is coming…still. Some parts of the state are expected to receive possible snow squalls as well as a potential rain/snow storm in the weeks to come. Weather conditions such as these often create challenges with business closures and employee absences. With that in mind, employers should consider the following issues that may arise due to inclement weather:
Are employers required to pay employees when the business is closed because of inclement weather?
If weather conditions cause an employer to shut down operations and close, non-exempt employees need not be paid for time they did not work because of the closing. On the other hand, exempt employees must be paid their salary for the week regardless of the business closure. An employer may require that exempt employees use accrued paid time off (PTO).
Must employees be paid if they do not report to work due to inclement weather when the business is open?
Non-exempt employees need not be paid for the time they are absent from work. An employer may, however, at its discretion, allow non-exempt employees to use PTO for the absence. Additionally, exempt employees need not be paid for a whole day’s absence due to inclement weather. An exempt employee absent for part of a day may be required to use accrued paid time off. If the exempt employee has no accrued paid time off, however, 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?
Generally, an employer may 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 residence, 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.
Ultimately, to avoid confusion about how weather-related closures and absences will be handled, employers should have a written inclement weather policy in their employee handbooks. The policy should be clear that employee safety is the main concern. The policy should also be clear as to the employees’ responsibility to give notice if they cannot make it to work due to bad weather.
Please feel free to contact any member of the McNees Wallace & Nurick Labor and Employment Practice Group for assistance with labor and employment law issues and/or if you have any questions regarding this article.