Ask the Experts: Employee Claims to Not Receive Message of Office Closure

Question: We are a California employer. If we notify a nonexempt employee of a disaster-related closure via voice mail, text, or email, and they show up saying they never got the message, do we still owe them the half-day pay?

Answer: The answer depends upon how the company manages its notification process. If the company has communicated to all employees the method that will be used for notifying employees of workplace closures, reinforces that policy prior to or during weather events, and can verify that the message was sent and received by the employee, then the employer would not be liable for the show-up pay.

As a best practice, we recommend asking employees to respond to the voicemail, text, or email acknowledging that they have received the message. Otherwise, especially with weather emergencies where power, internet, or phone service may be interrupted, the employee’s claims of not getting the message may in fact be true. Consult with counsel prior to denying show-up pay if you cannot prove that the message was received. Paying the employee a few hours of pay costs far less than responding to a state agency if a wage complaint is filed.