Even after a disaster, employers must comply with the FLSA.

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In September 2018, Hurricane Florence hit the Carolinas and Virginia, dumping record amounts of rain on the area. The water added to totals accrued during an already very wet summer.

Then in October, Hurricane Michael roared ashore on Florida's Gulf Coast, the fourth most powerful hurricane ever to strike the U.S. mainland.

Damage from the storms is likely to continue to affect businesses in both regions for many months. However, the need for solid payroll processes won't take time off. The wage-and-hour rules employers must follow every day also apply during and after disasters.

THE LAW The Fair Labor Standards Act and related state wage-and-hour laws dictate the rules for employee pay. When weather disasters hit, employees may not be able to make it to work. Workplaces may be shut down or inaccessible. Normal operating procedures may run head-on into the FLSA's requirements.

The FLSA classifies employees as either exempt or nonexempt from minimum wage and overtime pay. Exempt employees are executive, administrative or professional capacities who are paid on a salary basis and compensated at a rate of at least $455 per week.

Nonexempt employees must be paid for all the hours they work at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour or more. For any hours over 40 they work in a week, they must be paid time-and-a-half.

HOW TO COMPLY The wage-and-hour rules are different for nonexempt and exempt employees.

Nonexempt pay during disasters

Under the FLSA and similar state laws, employers must pay nonexempt employees for all the time they work. No work means no pay, whether the employee opted to stay home rather than brave the weather or if work stops because the employer closes up shop during and after a storm.

However, if an employee is "on call" and not free to use the time as he or she wishes, the employer must pay the worker even if he or she is never called into work.

Employers are free to pay workers for their regular hours even if they don't work.

Employers may also permit employees to use personal leave during disasters to see them through until normal operations resume.

Exempt pay

Exempt employees are entitled to their entire weekly salary if they work any time during the week. Even if exempt employees come in late or leave early because of weather or travel conditions, they still receive their full salary.

Should exempt employees opt to not come to work because of weather or travel conditions and the business is open, the employer can...

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