As a light dusting of snow falls on much of North and West Texas, I thought it was a good time to review the rules regarding deductions from exempt employee salaries for weather-related absences.  Employees qualifying for the white collar exemptions (e.g., professional, administrative and executive exemptions) are generally entitled to receive their entire salary for any workweek where they perform work, regardless of the amount of work performed during the week (like most things, there are some exemptions not addressed here). 

When an employer closes its business for less than a full week due to weather-related conditions such as snow, the employer must pay the exempt employee the full salary for the week.  In this case, while the employer must pay the exempt employee the full salary for the workweek, nothing prohibits the employer from deducting that period of time from the exempt employee’s PTO or vacation bank –so long as the employer’s written policies do not prohibit it from doing so.  If an exempt employee has exhausted all available PTO or vacation, the employer should still pay the full salary for the workweek under this situation.

Conversely, where the workplace is open for business and the exempt employee elects not to report to work for a full day because road conditions are treacherous, the employer may reduce the exempt employee’s salary for the workweek for the period of full day absences caused by weather.  An absence under these circumstances constitutes an absence for personal reasons.  An employer could also pay the employee and deduct the time from the employee’s PTO or vacation balance.  An employer should not, however, deduct from the exempt employee’s salary a partial day deduction (e.g., where the employee reports late for work due to road conditions).  Treating exempt employees’ pay for absences occasioned by weather-related absences is important because failing to do so may jeopardize the employees’ eligibility for exempt status.

DOL Opinion letters here and here.