Is it legal to not pay salaried employees during a temporary closure?

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Is it legal to not pay salaried employees during a temporary closure?

I work in a hotel. We are closing for a month for renovation and the employer is expecting us to take vacation. As a salaried employee I feel this is wrong. There is opportunity to go to other hotels but not for every employee. Plus, I don’t feel I should be forced to work in another state and leave my family for a month or so. Is this legal?

Asked on October 18, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

It is legal. The law does not require payment of anyone, including salaried employees, when the business is closed. Employees are paid to work; they are not guaranteed a salary or wages for not working. What you do about not working for a month--take time off; work at another hotel; drive for Uber; etc.--is up to you, but the law is clear that when the employer is closed, they do not need to pay employees. 
(One exception: if you had a written employment contract or union agreement guarantying you a certain salary for the year; in that case, they'd have to pay you the contractually agreed-upon salary even if they close for a month.)


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