Snow day staff payment-am I being unreasonable?

I have 2 employees, both hourly workers. As you know, we had an epic snowstorm a week and a half ago. The snow policy that is delineated in the office manual is as follows:

All closings are at my discretion
We usually go with the Federal Government however, I reserve the right to make the final decision.
If we are closed for snow, staff will get paid for their usual hours.
Hours are not fixed and depend on the patient load; staff usually goes home early on Fridays if there are no patients.

With the large storm, the Feds closed at 12 on Friday. All of our Friday patients were moved to the morning and we finished by noon and all of the work was done. I told the staff to go home by noon since we had finished all of our work.

Monday, the Feds were closed. Both staff members stated that their streets were not plowed and they could not come in. I had them cancel the morning patients but I got to the office for the afternoon and saw the one patient that actually came in myself and did all of the usual paperwork etc myself.

Tuesday, we worked a regular day.

Both staff members claimed 1/2 day Friday and a full day Monday pay for snow days.
I told them that I would pay for 1/2 day Monday. Now everybody is upset

My feeling is that the snow day pay is to compensate them for the work they do at home when the office is closed. I am willing to pay 1/2 day Monday for cancelling the morning patients (although that took 30 seconds with our automated system) and for the telephone calls back and forth. However, the office was open Monday afternoon and I was there and working so I don’t see why I should pay them for sitting at home and doing nothing when I am there working. I appreciate that they were unable to come in but does that mean that I have to pay them? I feel that as hourly workers, if they want this time they should take PTO.

(As an additional note, I did previously offer to make one of the employees a salaried worker but she turned me down because she felt she made more money from overtime. As a salaried worker, she would have been paid for the day.)


I’m in Houston, so I don’t have a lot of experience with snow days. But how were the roads in the afternoon? And how far do you live from the office compared to how far your employees are?

If a lot of roads were clear at noon on Monday, and they both live fairly close to the office, then I’m more on your side. But if roads were still pretty iffy, and the city was still encouraging people to stay off the roads, and your employees both live a good deal farther from work than you do, then I can more understand why they are upset.

Staff both live a few miles away from the office, maybe within 15 minutes. I live 30-45 minutes away. Main roads were clear. The snow was over by Saturday night and The issue was shoveling out which I did on Sunday but their streets were not cleared. However, the local schools and government as well as the Feds were closed because side streets were not all cleared.

It’s your choice, they didn’t work, you don’t have to pay them. But you should consider whether it made sense to open on Monday. You know all the factors, are they two employees worth paying extra for? I can see both side of this, and I think paying them half a day anyway to smooth things over is a generous compromise.

It seems like there’s a lot of ambiguity in this policy. You start with “All closings are at my discretion.” Fine. You should have just stopped there.

Then you add on “We usually go with the Federal Government,” but reiterate, “I reserve the right to make the final decision.” Again, if it always comes down to “All closings are at my discretion,” that’s all you need.

By a strict reading of the policy, you don’t owe them anything, because you apparently intended the policy to mean: “If I’m in the office, we’re not closed.”



This is what I don’t understand. If I’m expecting to work a full day on Monday, but you cancel all of my patients because of the snow, then why wouldn’t I expect a full day’s pay? You’ve just told me that’s what I’d get. I mean, sure, technically you “opened” that day, but that seems like a technicality; you cancelled all but 1 of your patients and had all of your employees stay home, that’s pretty much the definition of “closed.”

Do they usually get paid for Friday afternoons when they go home early?

eta: Did you call them up when you went into the office on Monday afternoon and give them the opportunity to come in and get paid for doing paperwork or whatever they might do? The roads were probably cleared by then, they probably would have done it if they’d realized up front that they weren’t going to get paid if they stayed home.

Did you call them before Monday and tell them they were expected in at the normal time? If not, you should pay them.

And no, a “snow day” is generally not to pay them for working at home instead of the office. If that is your expectation, it needs to be explicitly written into your policy. And how do you expect them to work for 8 hours of all there is to do is cancel a few appointments that day?

Look, in all seriousness:

1- The ambiguity in the rules is a big problem.
2- Do you really expect your workers to work as hard as you do?

As to point #2, business partners put in equal amount of work, investment, expertise, etc. Employees get paid to show up and work. If the general idea is to go with Federal announcement of closing for snow days, stick to that.

Counterpoint to #2. Of course you want your employees to work hard. Employee’s who go above and beyond should be your favorite employees and be first to get raises and other similar consideration… if/when they earn it. But this situation is a bit too vague to really call them lazy, I think, unless it fits an overall pattern.

You’re right.

You’re right, too.

There is nothing ambiguous about that. The office wasn’t closed for snow, **psychobunny **is not obligated to pay them. What the federal government did is irrelevant. **psycobunny **is not required to pay hourly employees for hours they did not work.

As someone else asked:

When you normally close early on Friday, are they paid for the full day?

I’d pay them. Why generate all that resentment over a few bucks?

How do you figure?

Full day Monday, nothing for Friday.

Pending further information, this is what I’d say. I’d also change your policy ASAP; paying hourly workers for snow days doesn’t seem typical and can only lead to stuff like this.

Exactly what I was going to say. I don’t have any difficulty at all seeing your justification for not paying for Friday afternoon.

As for Monday — well, let me ask you this: if your Monday afternoon patient(s) had canceled and you hadn’t gone in at all, would you have paid your employees for the full day?

**psychobunny **said so. They were opened for half a day. psychobunny makes that decision, and it can be arbitrary.