Do I Get Paid if a Natural Disaster Closes the Office?

With recent natural disasters like Hurricane Matthew making the headlines, it’s common for employees to wonder what would happen to their paychecks if they were in a similar situation. While California is certainly not as subject to hurricanes, tornados, or blizzards as other parts of the country, a natural disaster such as an earthquake or fire certainly has the potential to close the office for days at a time.

Determining whether or not you are eligible for payment hinges on your status as an exempt or non-exempt employee.

To refresh your memory:

  • Exempt Employees: Those who hire or fire others and make at least two times the California minimum wage in salaried full-time employment. Exempt positions are excluded from overtime regulations, minimum wage, and other protections given to nonexempt workers.
  • Non-Exempt Employees: Those who are paid at least federal minimum wage and overtime pay of no less than one and a half times their hourly rate for hours worked over 40/week. They are often afforded more federal protections than exempt workers.

Exempt Employee Pay in a Natural Disaster

Exempt employees are entitled to full salary pay during a natural disaster, whether or not the office is closed. However, employers have the ability to deduct time taken from vacation time or paid time off.

  • If the business is open but the exempt employee is unable to make it to work – a full day’s pay may be deducted if the employee does no work. These are considered voluntary absences.
  • If an exempt employee comes to work, but leaves to go home early at the employer’s urging due to weather, he or she must be paid for the entire workday.
  • If the exempt employee does any work at home, the employer must be paid for the entire workday or workweek.

Non-Exempt Employee Pay in a Natural Disaster

If you are a non-exempt employee, your employer isn’t obligated to pay for time that the office is not open, because you are paid according to hours worked.

  • If a non-exempt employee works from home, an employer must pay him or her for the time worked, unless the amount of time worked was negligible (such as less than ten minutes checking email.)
  • If a non-exempt employee has a fixed salary for a fluctuating workweek, he or she must be paid their full weekly salary if any work was performed.

For more information regarding your pay, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our experienced Los Angeles employment law attorney, Alan Burton Newman. A graduate of Harvard with more than four decades of experience, Attorney Newman can capably handle your case. If your employer has withheld pay that you believe you are rightfully owed, get in touch with our firm as soon as possible.

Contact us today to begin a free consultation with a Los Angeles employment lawyer.