Most Americans can’t afford to miss work. However, you might have no choice if your place of employment closes in a state of emergency. If you’re in this situation, you might be wondering if your employer still has to pay you, or what to do if they failed to give you your last check. We’ll cover these topics in more detail below.

Exempt vs. Non-Exempt Employees

Businesses are typically unable to operate as usual during an emergency. They may close temporarily due to government action or other precautions. If your workplace is currently closed, you may need to know if your employer still owes you wages for the hours you’re unable to work. That depends on whether you’re an exempt or non-exempt employee.

Non-Exempt Employees

Non-exempt employees (those who earn an hourly wage) are not entitled to pay for time they aren’t able to work. The Department of Labor mandates that you’re only owed wages for actual hours worked. If your job shuts down temporarily, your employer doesn’t owe you any wages during the time of closure.

Exempt Employees

If you’re a salaried worker (exempt employee), you may still receive wages, even if your workplace shuts down. If your job closes but you still worked part of that week, your employer must pay you a full week’s salary. However, they aren’t obligated to give you vacation pay. If you’ve accumulated paid time off or vacation pay, your boss might require that you use these hours to cover missed workdays during the closure. 

Your employer will have to give you a full week’s wages with no deductions if you don’t have enough paid time off to cover your missed days. If your employer hasn’t followed these rules, speak with our employment law team to learn about your options.

Final Paycheck Laws in Arizona

If you just lost your job, you’re likely concerned about when you’ll get your last paycheck. State law determines rules for final paychecks concerning both the employer and employee. If you were laid off, you must receive all wages your employer owes you by the regularly scheduled pay period or within the following week (whichever comes first). Employers who fail to follow these laws may be subject to a civil action and end up owing far more to the employee.

Generally speaking, state law says that your employer may not withhold your wages. However, if they’re claiming that you owe reimbursement or have an existing debt, causing a dispute over the amount, your employer may delay your final paycheck. 

Losing your job due to an emergency is a stressful experience. It’s best that you ensure your rights are protected during this time.

At-Will Employment in Arizona

You may be wondering whether your boss can make you come into work during a state of emergency. Arizona is an “at will” employment state, meaning you can leave your job whenever you want without giving a reason. And, similarly, your boss can terminate you at any time and for any (lawful) reason, without warning. Unlawful reasons to fire an employee include discrimination based on gender, religion, or race.

While your employer may fire you without notice, they may not terminate you if you have an implied contract. If your employee handbook determines that your boss can only fire you with just cause, they have to give you a reason for terminating your employment. In addition, your employer may not violate public policy in firing you. Violating public policy may include terminating your employment in response to you reporting criminal or unsafe activities. Similarly, you may not be fired for supporting a political candidate or cause.

COVID-19 is an unprecedented and ever-changing event. In some cases, state law and government mandates may be in conflict with each other. While the information in this article covers general employment laws, you may need to consult with a lawyer for more specific guidance.

Speak with Our Employment Law Team Today 

Simply researching employee rights can be confusing as federal and state are complicated and ever-changing. Contact us today to take action if you think your employer has unlawfully violated your rights. An experienced employment law attorney can help you explore your options and protect your rights as an employee or former employee.

 

Call our Employment Law team at (480) 464-1111 to discuss your case today.

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