Two weeks ago, my colleague Michael Lavelle did a post about dealing with employees who may be on call.  Today, he’s back, following up on another weather-related issue — paying employees for just reporting to work (even if they are sent home), sometimes known as the "Minimum Daily Earnings Guaranteed". It was the subject of a recent SHRM article and Michael explains what is — and is not — required under Connecticut law.   

Mark Twain is usually credited with the wonderful observation that everybody talks about the weather, but nobody ever does anything about it.

We can’t do anything about the weather either, but as the snows continue to fall, we can continue to alert businesses as to some practical considerations for employee pay in the event of weather hazards.

One category of employee that we did not mention in our last weather-related article (approximately three snow storms ago) is the employee who struggles into the workplace, only to find that the business is shut down and must return home.

Generally speaking, the employee does not need to be paid since he or she did not work. But under statutory authority to set wage policies for certain industries, the Connecticut Commissioner of Labor has made a different rule for these types of businesses:

  • beauty shops
  • laundry, cleaning and dyeing operations
  • mercantile trades (meaning wholesale and retail selling of commodities)
  • hotel and restaurant occupations

Employees in these industries must be paid minimum earnings of 4 hours (2 hours for hotel and restaurant employees) if they report for duty, except that waivers are available if the regularly scheduled shift is less than 4 hours.

But the regulations specifically apply to employees who report in "at the request or by permission of the employer," which suggests a good practice for all employers, not just in the regulated industries.

There are many ways to communicate a business closing to employees: by phone, e-mail, texting, requiring a call-in to hear a recorded announcement, required viewing of a TV station that announces closings, a calling tree, and so on.

Employers who announce a closing are not requesting employees to report in, and are in fact denying them permission to report in.

Under the labor regulations, this policy should exclude payment for reporting in.  In doing so, it can also be seen as being courteous to employees and contributing to their safety.