23 Oct Employment and Wages – Hurricane
The following points answer many of Puerto Rico employer’s questions related to employment and wages issues before, during, and after a natural disaster. As of this topic, the Department of Labor of Puerto Rico states in their local Regulation 13 and also relies on the U.S. Department of Labor and its Wage and Hour Division’s determination.
Non-Exempt Employees (hourly employees)
There is no obligation to pay non-exempt employees when they do not work, either if they are absent, or if the employer reduced operations because of weather or a natural disaster with the following 2 exceptions.
- if any agreement provides otherwise
- if the employee is “engaged to be waiting” for work or on-call on-premises or off-premises.
Normally exempt employees are paid a guaranteed weekly salary regardless of quality or quantity of work. Therefore, the employer should fully pay the weekly or daily, even if worked a partially a week or a day unless the following conditions or points are happening, i.e. the exempt employee will not need pay:
- when there is a week in which they did not work,
- for full-day absences for personal reasons (including transportation issues),
- for a full-day absence due to sickness or accident if there is a bona fide paid leave, partial day absences are compensated as a full day, and chargeable to accrued leave
If exempt employees are able, ready, and willing to work, the employer is not obligated to pay their weekly salary when work is not available. The employer has the following options in this scenario:
- pay accrued leave for the time an exempt employee is not able to work because of the lack of work, and
- allow an exempt employee to volunteer to take time off