Hurricane Prep for the Workplace

With Hurricane Irma set for a landfall in Florida, South Carolina or North Carolina, it is important for employers to be prepared and make sure that employees know what to expect when it comes to inclement weather situations before, during and after the storm.  Employers can do this by having an Inclement Weather Policy, Communication Plan and Disaster Recovery Plan.

The Inclement Weather policy should outline specifics around the employers’ and the employees’ responsibilities related to communication with the each other on whether the company will be “open” or “closed”.  It should also cover the specifics related to pay for employees based on the company being open or closed.  Hourly non-exempt workers are not required to be paid for time not worked, however, employers may allow them to use available paid time off (PTO) to cover any missed time.  Because the FLSA restricts certain deductions from salaried exempt employees pay, salaried exempt employees must be paid if the company is closed for weather and the employee is unable to work because of the company closure.  If the company is open and the salaried exempt employee does not report to work nor does any work remotely, then the company can require the employee to use any available paid time off (PTO) to cover that absence.  If they don’t have available PTO and they didn’t perform any work the entire day, that day can be deducted from their pay.  However, if the salaried exempt employee worked any portion of the day, whether in the office or remotely, they must be paid for the full day.  The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) has very specific regulations related to payment for employees based on their classification of hourly non-exempt or salaried exempt so employers must be sure that their Inclement Weather and pay practices are compliant with the FLSA.

The Communication Plan should include current and updated contact information for all employees as well as call tree of who is responsible for communicating with who through the situation.  Employers must ensure that all employees have the communication plan and contact information that they need to get updates and guidance from the company.  This plan should be reviewed regularly throughout the year to adjust for any staff changes as well as contact information updates.

The Disaster Recovery Plan should identify key/essential employees and what their responsibilities are related to the company after the inclement weather.  Ensuring the safety of employees, pulling the company data backup and maintaining the security of company information and assets should be outlined in this plan.

Be prepared and be safe!