As we move further into winter, this is a good time of year to review your "Inclement Weather" policy to make sure your workplace is prepared when bad weather hits. The article below addresses some of the items that you should be aware of when winter weather impacts the work place.
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PTO May be Required
During Inclement Weather
It doesn't usually sit well with employees, but they can be required to use their accrued paid time off (PTO) during inclement weather events.
"Unless there is a state law restriction or a written policy to the contrary, employers may require employees to use their PTO to cover absences," said Paul DeCamp, a former administrator of the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division.
It's important for an employer to have an inclement weather policy spelling out the rules that apply to exempt and nonexempt employees when the employer is open during inclement weather vs. when it is closed.
The rules for nonexempt employees are straightforward---they are paid only for the time worked.
If the employer closes for some of a workweek due to inclement weather, it must pay an exempt worker his or her usual salary if the employee performs any work during the workweek, even if remotely.
A PTO policy might specifically reference the employer's ability to require the use of PTO by employees to cover weather-related absences.
If an employer closes the office and requires the use of PTO to cover the day, the impact on morale is likely to be negative-more so than if the office is open but the employer allows employees who can't make it in to use a PTO day.
When exempt employees work a partial day and then leave early due to bad weather, they still must be paid for the full day.
It is important that employees understand the expectations about working away from work ahead of time, along with employees being required to accurately report all time worked.
If an employer stays open despite inclement weather and an exempt employee chooses not to work, that is a personal decision and the day may be docked without jeopardizing the exempt status.
"A written policy is an opportunity for an employer to underscore the importance of employees' safety when determining closures or whether employees should attempt to report to work in inclement conditions," said Jim Swartz, an attorney with Polsinelli in Atlanta.
DeCamp said employers sometimes ask whether they may discipline employees for choosing to stay home during inclement weather.
"While the employer does not want to allow employees to hinder operations or to force a closure, the last thing an employer wants to see is a situation where a supervisor orders an employee to come to work in a snowstorm and the employee gets into a car accident," DeCamp said. "I generally advise employers to think very carefully before disciplining in this situation and to err on the side of employee and public safety."
One of the most common questions employers have during inclement weather is if "they can force employees with insufficient PTO balances to go into a negative balance situation, or, in other words, whether they can advance the employee extra PTO and then recoup that advance over time," DeCamp added.
Generally, an employer can do that, assuming the practice complies with state law and the employer's written policies.
DeCamp noted that another frequent issue that arises is how to treat PTO deficits upon an employee's separation from employment. State law will dictate whether and when employers may deduct the negative PTO balance from the final pay of nonexempt employees, he noted.
"For salaried exempt employees, whether the employer can deduct that balance from final pay depends on whether the employer could have deducted it from the employee's pay at the time of the absence-the missed time that gave rise to the PTO deficit," he said.
If you need assistance with your Inclement Weather policy, please let HR Advantage provide our guidance.
"Ban the Box" Legislation Enacted
in Nineteen States
The "ban the box" campaign continues to take hold across the country. Currently nineteen states and Washington D.C. require private employers to remove the conviction history
question on a job application and delay the background check inquiry until later in the hiring process. Advocates say this change would help ex-offenders in the job process and assist them in transitioning back into society.
The 19 states include: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia,
Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska,
New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia.
Will Utilization of E-Verify Change Due to Missouri Resisting the Federal Government's Real ID Requirements?
We have received lots of questions around the impact on E-Verify due to Missouri
the Federal Government's changes to ID requirements. This is what we have found out....
At this time, the list of acceptable documents new employees are required to present to their employers in order to complete the I-9 have not changed; therefore, employers may continue to use a Missouri Driver License to satisfy the identification requirements for the purpose of documenting new hires' identification on both I-9 forms and E-Verify.
The position of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which administers the E-Verify program, is that if the employee presents a valid, legitimate Missouri Driver License, the identification requirement will be satisfied. Regarding their process, Lillian (last name withheld for security purposes), in USCIS's Nebraska office, confirmed that if an identification check is run through E-verify and the databases match up with the Missouri licensing authority, there shouldn't be any problem completing the process. Although some agencies are choosing not to recognize the Missouri Driver License, USCIS is currently not one of them.
We will continue to monitor this situation and bring you updated information as it is available.
OSHA 300A Forms Must Be Posted
by February 1
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mandates that all employers who are required to maintain the OSHA 300 Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses post a summary of the previous year's log between February 1st and April 30th each year, even if no incidents occurred in the preceding calendar year. The summary (OSHA Form 300A) must be certified by a company executive and posted in a conspicuous location where notices to employees are customarily posted.
All employers who have more than ten employees are covered by this requirement unless they qualify as part of an exempt low-risk industry. To learn more, including how to complete the form, please
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