The snow and sleet storm that hit Illinois on December 1 had many of us scrambling to identify last-minute policies regarding the handling of pay during the days that followed. After receiving several requests for information on how other employers were handling pay issues, we knew that the best resource for obtaining feedback was from employers themselves—so we conducted a mini-survey. The survey results represent feedback from 188 employers in Illinois.
We found that the majority of employers did not have a formal, documented inclement weather policy (66 percent did not while 33 percent did). However, while employers may not have had an inclement weather policy, many commented that they had an emergency closing policy in which weather was included.
For organizations that made the decision to close on that record-setting day, the real question was “to pay or not to pay?” Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, an employer does not have to pay a non-exempt employee when they do not work. So the next question is, “What is your pay policy for inclement weather business closings?” Thirty-six percent of respondents indicated that they paid non-exempt employees their normal wages when the decision to close was prompted by the company. Another 34 percent indicated that they require employees to use a vacation/ personal or sick leave day to receive pay. Thirteen percent paid nothing.
For organizations that remained open, what is the pay policy for those that just couldn’t get to work? Fifty-seven percent of respondents indicated that they require non-exempt employees to use vacation, personal or sick leave day to receive pay. Sixteen percent reported they require them to “makeup” the time in the same pay period and the final 16 percent indicated no pay.
So what about exempt employees? When the business closes for the day, 75 percent of respondents indicated that they paid the normal salary. Eighteen percent required exempt employees to use a vacation day or personal day, even though they knew they cannot deduct a day’s pay if no paid time off is available. If the business did not close, 40 percent paid the normal salary, with no additional requirements. Thirty-nine percent required them to take a vacation or personal day and 11 percent required the time to be made up.
While we hope we won’t get hit with record-setting snowfall again in the near future, spring is still a long way off. It may be a good idea to get out the policy manual and review how to handle emergency closings just to be prepared for the next time. For more information, please refer to the opinion letter issued by the Department of Labor, you can link to it at www.tinyurl.com/y2ckq7. IBI