Avoiding Wage and Hour Hurricanes After Sandy

At the risk of being jaded, it seems that, after every natural disaster, plaintiffs’ lawyers follow.  So, now is good time to brush up on wage and hour rules relatives to closings that may result from Hurricane Sandy:

1. As a result of the FLSA’s salary basis requirement, if as a result of the hurricane, you close for less than a full work week, you must pay an exempt employee for days that you are closed.  However, you generally can require that an exempt employee use PTO during a day in which you close. [Note: general rule most probably would not apply to sick days; same is true for #2 below]. 

2.  If you remain open and an exempt employee does not come to work, you do not have to pay the employee for the day; this can be treated as an absence for personal reasons, provided it is a full day.  If an exempt employee arrives late or leaves early, he or she must be paid for the full day, but you generally can require that he or she use PTO, if available, to cover the non-working time.  You also must pay him or her if he or she works from home.  

3. No legal obligation under the FLSA to pay non-exempt employees who do not work because you close due to the hurricane; however, there is an exception for non-exempt employees who are paid under the fluctuating work week.

4. Even if there is no duty to pay non-exempt employees, consider the employee relations message of paying exempt but not paying non-exempt employees for a day on which you are closed. 

5. Also, if non-exempt employee works at home, you must pay for all time worked.  Systems must be put in place to state who can work remotely and how they must record their time so that they are properly paid.  Remember, break rules apply to working at home too.

6. Keep in mind state law may impose additional requirements or restrictions. For example only, in New Jersey, there are call-in requirements; that is, if an employee comes to work and is sent home, there is a minimum number of hours’ pay the employee must receive.

7. Keep in mind also that there may be payment obligations under collective bargaining agreements and/or your policies.

8. Be safe: http://www.cdc.gov/Features/HurricanePreparedness/?s_cid=tw_DrCP38