If our company closes due to inclement weather, are we required to pay employees? Can we require PTO use?
The answer depends on whether the employees are exempt or non-exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Exempt employees must still be paid when you close due to inclement weather. Non-exempt employees, however, only need to be paid for actual hours worked, plus any reporting time pay that may be required by state law. If nonexempt employees are contacted by the employer prior to reporting to work, no pay is due for the day.
That said, you should also be consistent with your own policy and practice. If you have been paying all employees — regardless of their employment classification — for hours they would have worked had you not closed for bad weather, then you should continue to do so. If you would like to end that practice, we recommend creating a clear written policy and distributing it to all employees prior to implementation.
Many employees like the option of using accrued paid time off or vacation when there is an unexpected closure. This is something you can allow, but if your office has closed for weather in the past and you have not required employees to use paid time off or vacation, it would be risky to take up that practice now without giving them a heads up. When it comes to accrued paid time off or vacation, it is safest to give employees advance notice if there are situations where you will use their accrued hours whether they like it or not. Whether you allow or require the use of accrued hours in these circumstances, it’s best to describe your practice in a written policy and ensure employees have a clear understanding of what to expect.