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Yes, an employer can shut down their operation for short periods of time. Because it is not an actual lay off, there would be no WARN Act requirement to give prior notice and there is not requirement to tell people about this practice at hire.
For hourly employees, they only have to be paid if they work, so there is no requirement for compensation. For salaried workers, if the worker does any work during a pay week and then is shot out the rest of the week, they still have to be paid the entire week (as their reason for missing wasn't personal to them). However, if the employer is shutting down the office for an entire work week, the salaried employee can do no work during that week and so pay is not required.
Any of these employees can file a claim for unemployment for those weeks, stating "lack of work" as the basis.
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