I have discovered that my post earlier this week on the above topic contained some incorrect information about the payment of exempt employees when an agency’s offices are closed. Please see the corrected post below. I regret the misinformation and hope that it did not cause anyone any problems.
Although most of the metro Atlanta area escaped the snow predicted for last weekend and thankfully, the icy conditions we did experience were not as bad as they could have been, I thought it a good time to make my annual post on the above question. Some areas of North Georgia did get some significant snow and the school systems of many counties are still closed due to icy road conditions. That creates some difficult child care decisions for employees of agencies in those areas; stay home with the kids or find someone to watch them so mom or dad can go to work.
As noted in my past posts on this topic, the answer to the above question depends for the most part on whether an employee is classified as an exempt or nonexempt employee for purposes of the Fair Labor Standards Act. An exempt employee is one who does not have to be paid extra if they work more than 40 hours in any one work week. A nonexempt employee is one that must be paid at a higher rate for any time worked in excess of 40 hours in any one work week. I have addressed how to decide whether a particular employee is a nonexempt or exempt employee in posts last year about the proposed new overtime rule that has now been stayed. Even though the new rule was stayed, it is still essential for classification as an exempt employee that the employee be paid on a salary basis in an amount that equals at least $455.00 per week. Payment on a salary basis means the amount of an employee’s pay cannot be reduced based on the quality or quantity of the work performed by the employee during any one work week. The other requirements that must be met to be an exempt employee are explained in my earlier posts. Nonexempt employees must be paid at least the minimum wage, but only for the time they actually perform services on behalf of the employer.
Thus, if an agency’s offices are closed for any reason and a nonexempt employee does not perform any services for the agency from home, such an employee need not be paid for the time period the offices are closed. The same rule applies if the agency’s offices are open and a nonexempt employee does not come in or do any work from home. This is true regardless of whether the nonexempt employee is being paid a salary or on an hourly basis by the agency. As noted above, if a nonexempt employee performs any work from home on a day when the agency’s offices are closed, they must be paid for the time they actually worked.
Whether an exempt employee’s salary may be reduced depends on whether the agency’s office were open or if closed, how long they remain closed. An exempt employee’s salary may only be reduced if the agency’s offices are open, but the exempt employee does not come in due to any reason other than sickness or do any work from home. Therefore, if an exempt employee decides to stay home to take care of children who are not in school or due to severe weather decides they just can’t get to work, their next paycheck may be reduced by an amount equal to the number of full days they did not perform any services for the agency, if the agency’s office was open for business during that time period. If the agency’s offices were not open for business for less than a full workweek and an exempt employee performs any work during that workweek whether in the office or from home, they are entitled to be paid their full salary for that week. But the agency can require such an employee to use any accrued vacation or other leave time for the time when its offices were closed. The key is that an exempt employee must be paid their full salary for any week during which they performed any work, no matter how little.