Is it illegal to tell an employee not to come in and then not compensate their salary?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Is it illegal to tell an employee not to come in and then not compensate their salary?

Our area has been hit severely by a hurricane and floods. This resulted in many businesses shutting down. My fiancee works salary at a small company. The CEO personally texted each employee to not come in to work. However, he is also not going to compensate the salary workers for missing those days. My fiancee missed those days because he was out of town on a business trip and was not able to safely travel back to Houston. Airports were shut down, freeways were shut down. Our city was under water. What the CEO is going is unethical, in my opinion.

Asked on August 31, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Texas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Whether it's unethical, I'll leave for you to decide--though bear in mind that if the business is shut down, the business is not making money, so it may not be a position to pay employees for days they are not working and the company is not making money.
But whether the company/CEO is unethical or not, it is not illegal: there is no law requiring employers to pay employees for days they do not work, and at the same time, a business (as part of "employment at will") has free rein and discretion to decide when employees work  or don't work, and may freely and legally tell employees to not come into work. So the CEO could tell the employee to not work and then not pay him. If the employee had paid time off (e.g. vacation days), he could have used them to be paid for that time.

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