Snow Days for Adults?!

Last week metro Detroit experienced one of the largest snowstorms in years, which naturally resulted in students across the region to have a snow day(s).  As a kid there was nothing better than to learn you were having a snow day.  However, as a working adult that glee is now waned and you are left wondering how the large snowfall will affect your next working day, especially if you are a business owner.  

Before making any decisions you must refer to your respective employment handbook for guidance and hopefully, as a Michigan business, you have a policy addressing inclement weather. If not, then the following should help provide you with some guidance:

  1. Is the employee exempt (salaried) or non-exempt (hourly)?

  2. Is the business open or closed?

If the employee is exempt (i.e. employed in a bona fide executive, administrative, or professional capacity and paid on a salary basis of not less than $455/week), the generally that employee must be paid their full salary for any week in which they perform any work, regardless of the number of days or hours worked.  There are specific exceptions to this rule, including FMLA leave, the first or last weeks of employment, where no work is performed for an entire work week, or if the office is open and the exempt employee chooses to not report to work for a full work day.

If the employee is non-exempt (i.e. employed on an hourly basis and subject to the minimum wage and overtime requirement of the FLSA), then generally the employee need not be paid for time not worked regardless if the office is open or closed.  

Whether the office is open or closed, only affects your exempt/salaried employees.  

Open - if you opt to keep your doors open, but the exempt employee, nonetheless, decides to forgo coming into work then as an employer you may deduct a "full day" absence from the employee's salary.

Closed - this entails officially shutting down operations due to inclement weather or other emergency and employees are instructed to go home or not show up to work.  In this situation you are still obligated to pay all exempt/salaried employees their full salary.  Essentially, no deductions can be made if exempt employees are "ready, willing and able to work," but there just happens to be no work available.

However, you are permitted to have a policy in place that permits asking both exempt and non-exempt employees to use personal, sick or vacation time for missed hours or days due to a “snow day,” but in no event should an exempt/salaried employee’s time be treated as unpaid when the office is officially closed (even if an employee has no accrued time off benefits).

We hope this information provides you with some guidance to use for the next time we experience a deluge of snow, which is hopefully next winter.