Under the FLSA employers are only required to pay non-exempt employees for hours worked. Therefore, if a business is forced to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they aren’t required to pay employees for hours that are not worked regardless if they were scheduled to work those hours. Though, employers should determine any other payment obligations imposed by applicable state law.
Exempt, Salaried Employees
Employers may require exempt employees to take vacation or PTO in cases of office closure whether it is a full or half-day absence, so long as the employee is paid their full guaranteed weekly salary. If the employee does not have enough vacation time or PTO available, the employee must still receiver their full guaranteed weekly salary for any week in which they perform work duties in order to maintain their exempt status. The exempt employee doesn’t have to be paid for any week when work is not being performed.
Teleworking and Expenses
The DOL confirms that employers may encourage or require employees to telework in order to prevent spreading the infection. If you require an employee to work from home, you may not require that employee to reimburse the company for the business expenses of the employer where doing so decreases the employee’s pay below the required minimum wage and overtime compensation. That means that costs for internet access, equipment, etc., which are incurred by an hourly worker in order to be able to telework cannot reduce their earnings below minimum wage and any required overtime compensation. An exempt employee must be paid their guaranteed salary, which cannot be reduced by costs incurred by him or her in order to be able to telework.