The recent outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus has many in the country facing new and uncharted territories not limited to health care. While medical researchers scramble to fight the virus, employers and business owners wonder how to remain solvent while protecting their workers and the public. While West Virginia may have few confirmed cases so far, workers may be wondering how FLSA, the Fair Labor Standards Act, applies in the event their workplaces shut down.

The U.S. Department of Labor recently clarified for employers the FLSA rules for employees who miss work due to illness. While the unprecedented closings of businesses across the country means many are facing challenges they have never considered before, the rules for fair wages still apply. For example, salaried workers who are exempt from overtime rules must receive full pay if their employers require them to work from home. In general, exempt workers must also receive full pay if they work only a portion of a week.

Unfortunately, those who are not exempt from overtime rules, typically hourly workers, may not get paid if they are not working. A shutdown because of the coronavirus may mean many workers will be struggling without a paycheck. Therefore, it will be even more critical to fight for every dollar they earn.

Nonexempt employees whose businesses do not close may find themselves working many more hours when co-workers do not show up. It will be important for those workers to keep track of their hours and make sure they receive fair wages and any overtime they are due. Volunteering to work without pay is a violation of FLSA. Employees who have questions or concerns about their wages can seek answers from an experienced West Virginia attorney.