Before that first big snowstorm strikes, take a few minutes to review your policies during inclement weather. 

Having a written policy that has been distributed to all employees will help everyone avoid misunderstandings and can also serve as a checklist if it becomes necessary to close.

Compensation

The weather-related question employers most often ask us at CBIA is whether they have to pay employees if bad weather forces their business to close or makes traveling to work difficult.

As a general rule, nonexempt employees must be paid only for the hours they actually work, with the exception of hotel, restaurant, and retail workers. 

If a nonexempt employee works from home when the office is closed, they must be paid for the time they actually worked.

Restaurants and hotels must pay nonexempt employees for at least two hours if the employees report to work and the business closes early due to bad weather; retail establishments must pay for at least four hours.

There is no obligation to pay hotel, restaurant, or retail non-exempts if the weather does not allow the business to open at all or if the employees are unable to report because of travel conditions.

According to the Connecticut Department of Labor, exempt employees (managerial, administrative, professional) must be paid for the entire day if the office closes for a partial day. 

If the office is open and an employee leaves early or comes in late due to bad weather, paid time off may be used. 

However, if an employer requires work from home when the office is closed and an exempt employee chooses not to work, the employee must take the day off. 

Hourly employees who would not otherwise be paid may also be offered the option of using paid accrued time.

Handbook Practices

Your policy may also need to cover what will be taken into consideration if there is inclement weather. 

General Approach

Many policies state a general approach to closing, such as, “We are always open unless the state government closes.” 

Your type of business may determine whether this approach is suitable.

 For example, if you are a pharmacy, you will probably want to be open during inclement weather; if you are a clothing retail store, you may not want to be open during bad weather because you will not have any customers.

Notification of Closing

Determine how employees will be notified of a closing. 

You might require them to listen to a particular radio station for an announcement, phone a supervisor, check a voice-mail message, or something similar.

Essential Jobs 

Depending on the nature of your business, it may be that only key employees need to report for work during bad weather. 

Health care workers at a nursing home, for example, will have to be on duty, but the business office may be able to close.

Decision Making 

Your policy should specify who has the authority to close your operations.

 A large organization or one with several work sites may need to authorize more than one person.

Safety First 

Consider stating that employees should not endanger themselves trying to get to work during bad weather. 

This may help you avoid problems should an employee be injured on the way to work.