Can You Send an Employee Home?

Recently, we have received several questions about whether it is okay to send employees home early – without pay – if work is not available. These questions typically come from clients in certain industries, such as construction or landscaping, when weather does not permit outside work or restaurants and retail companies with unpredictable walk-in business and seasonal work.  \

What’s the short answer, you ask?

The short answer is yes, in North Carolina, employers are not required to pay a non-exempt employee a minimum number of hours if the employer dismisses the employee from work prior to completing their scheduled shift. North Carolina does also not require employers to pay non-exempt employees for reporting or showing up to work if no work is performed. An employer is only required to pay non-exempt employees for hours actually worked.   

A few more tips:

  • As always, be careful to treat everyone equally. Don’t pay some employees and not others.
  • Sometimes, employee travel time must be paid.  Normal home to work travel is not “paid time” in North Carolina; however, if an employee is traveling between two locations or job sites, travel time is work time.
  • Remember that rules regarding exempt employees are different. Generally, exempt employees must be paid in whole day and whole workweek increments.

So…paying employees is not always as cut and dry as it may appear! 

Want to learn more?   

Learn how to Do the Math: Track & Calculate Overtime Accurately – the 6th Deadly HR Sin in our complimentary webinar on September 19th from 8:30 to 9:30.

This online workshop will provide participants with strategies to avoid overtime errors; failing to “measure twice and cut once” regarding overtime can lead to personal liability and double damages! To avoid making wage and hour mistakes, this workshop will review exempt versus non-exempt classifications, various overtime payment options, and common overtime errors made by small employers.

Participants in this online workshop will learn about:

  • how to make exempt versus non-exempt classifications,
  • paying non-exempt employees a salary,
  • calculating overtime, and
  • understanding what constitutes “paid” work time.