Texas employers should have a policy to give employees advance warning of what to expect on a snow day, particularly in the Texas Panhandle, where we often have a couple of inclement weather days per year.
The easiest way to determine whether to keep your facility open or not is to follow your local school district’s decisions and let your staff find out through the media. That relieves you of having to communicate the decision to every employee. It is also helpful to your employees to be able to stay home with school-aged children who have no other place to go that day.
Texas and federal law do not specifically dictate when an employer must be open or closed during inclement weather, but they do dictate how compensation must be determined during those times.
Hourly employees do not have to be paid when they perform no work. Exempt employees, however, have to be paid their normal salaries when your facility is closed for weather reasons. On days when the company is open, but a salaried employee chooses not to travel because of road conditions near their house and therefore performs no work all day long, the exempt employee can be docked for that day or be required to use available paid time off.
The other pitfall with inclement weather days occurs when employees work at home on a snow day. If you give your employees the ability to remotely access their computers, if you allow them to take work home, or if you expect them to check emails and return phone calls on a snow day, you will need to pay them for those work hours (non-exempt employees) or that whole day (exempt employees).
I suggest that every employer adopt some kind of inclement weather policy similar to this one:
If the ____________ Independent School District closes school due to weather (snow or other severe weather) because travel is hazardous, the Company will be closed. Listen to the local media for announcements about school closings. You will not receive another communication that the Company is closed. This also applies to late starts or delays determined by the school district.
If the inclement weather occurs on a day when school is not in session, an announcement of the Company closing will be posted on the Company website and sent to local media outlets.
Closed days due to bad weather are not paid work days; however, if you have an unused personal day and/or vacation day available you may utilize it if you choose. You will need to communicate that decision on your time card. This applies to all hourly employees.
Exempt (salaried) employees will be paid their normal salary when the Company is closed for inclement weather.
If the Company offices are not closed but the employee is unable to safely travel because of the weather, the employee must call in prior to the start time and explain the travel difficulty and may use available paid time off to receive compensation for the missed work. This applies to both hourly and salaried employees.
If any work is performed remotely during an inclement weather day, the hourly employee should record that time worked on that day and will be paid for that time. If an exempt employee works remotely during day missed because of inclement weather, no PTO will need to be used and the exempt employee’s regular salary will be paid for that day.