Updated: August 28, 2011 – As of mid-morning, more than 40 percent of the state is without power, making this storm the highest power outage in state history.  Widespread office closures are expected for Monday and early this week.

It’s the (relatively) calm before the storm on Saturday night.  Hurricane Irene is definitely coming.

But one question that I’ve seen raised on Twitter today is the following: As an employer, do I need to pay employees if we’re closed on Monday?

It’s a question that is looking more and more likely in need of answer.  Widespread power outages and major flooding are forecast.

There are some exceptions (and, as I’ve highlighted before, you ought to consult with your legal counsel about the particulars of your business) but in general, the answer to the question depends on whether the employee is exempt or non-exempt.

As a general rule, exempt employees get paid on a salary basis the same amount each week — regardless of the amount of work that they do. Thus, for these employees, they are going to get “paid” for the day, in the form of their typical weekly salary.

For non-exempt employees, the general rule is that they only get paid for time that they work.  If they don’t work Monday — even if the office is closed — then they don’t get paid for the work.

Of course, as a morale issue, some employers will pay non-exempt employees for the time or may ask employees to merely take the day as “paid time off”  — figuring that these things happen. But there may be some employers who don’t.

For additional information, there are several posts out there discussing this in the context of a snow day.  Ah, snow. Seems very far off now.

Given the fluid power outage situation, I’m not quite sure when the next blog post from me will be.  Hopefully, on Monday.

In the meantime, stay safe until we can safely say, Goodnight Irene.