How Does Inclement Weather Affect Wage & Hour Laws?
Alabama residents may be used to tornados, but snow storms and icy conditions are a different story. Last year we barely survived "snowmeggedon" and this year, we have already had civil emergency warnings and late-start days due to the freezing temperatures. But, what happens when you can't get to work because of inclement weather?
Exempt versus non-exempt employees
Wage and hour requirements, established by the Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA), mostly depend on the status of an employee as either exempt or non-exempt. The same is true when it comes to the consequences of inclement weather. What happens if an employee is unable to work because of inclement weather depends on whether that employee is salaried or hourly.
Generally speaking, employers are not required to pay non-exempt (hourly) employees who were unable to work due to a weather-related emergency. Those employees may be eligible for unemployment benefits, however. Salaried employees, who are exempt from overtime pay, must be paid for days when an employer is closed due to a weather-related emergency.
Is unemployment compensation available in Alabama?
If an employee is otherwise eligible for unemployment compensation, he or she is entitled to benefits when out of work for reasons other than his or her own misconduct. In Alabama, an employee must have earned insured wages in at least two quarters of their base period in order to qualify for unemployment benefits. The "base period" is defined as the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters before the week an initial claim application is filed for a new benefit year.
Alabama Salaried Employees
How a salaried Alabama employee must be paid during inclement weather depends, first, on whether the employer closes the business. When the business is closed, a salaried employee must receive their full salary. The employer can require them to use their vacation days during the closure, if they have any. However, salaried employees who do not have vacation days available, cannot have their salary deducted.
If the business is open during inclement weather, a salaried employee is required to be at work. If the employee refuses to come to work, or if they cannot get to work because of weather, the employer can treat it as an absence for personal reasons. In essence, if the employee is absent for a full day, the employer can place the employee on unpaid leave, so as not to affect the employee's exempt status.
Alabama Hourly Employees
The wage and hour rights of an hourly employee are much simpler. When an hourly employee does not work, the employer is not required to pay that employee. The reason for the absence is inconsequential. This is true regardless of whether or not the employer closes the business for inclement weather.
If you have questions regarding your employment responsibilities during inclement weather, or if you have any questions regarding your employment rights, please contact Wrady & Michel, LLC, either online or by calling us at (205) 265-1880.