Don’t Let Hurricane Sandy Become a Wage and Hour Disaster

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, many companies in the Northeastern US may find themselves facing unusual situations and needing to make use of alternate or flexible work arrangements to deal with power outages, road closures and damaged facilities.

Hurricane Sandy

You know, the longer you’re in business, the more likely it becomes that you will one day have to deal with the after-effects of a disaster. For some organizations today, it’s Hurricane Sandy. For others, it could one day be another hurricane, a tornado, an earthquake, a wildfire, a mudslide, a blizzard, a flood or some other natural disaster.

It’s hard enough for a business to recover from a disaster as it is. The last thing you need at that point is to find yourself in hot water over wage and hour violations.

But unusual situations lead to unusual work arrangements… which often leads to unintentional violations. And “ignorance of the law” isn’t going to get you off the hook. So, in no particular order, here are some of the best articles I’ve found from some of the country’s top wage and hour advisors, covering employment law that applies in situations like this:

  1. From the firm Seyfarth Shaw comes this article that covers both workplace safety and employee compensation. For instance: how do you make sure you’re on the right side of the law when employees volunteer to help with cleanup around the workplace?
  2. From the FMLA Insights blog published by Franczek Radelet comes this analysis of what your obligations may be to provide employees with FMLA leave related to a disaster such as Hurricane Sandy.
  3. While this may come a little late for companies already affected by Hurricane Sandy, this article from Ogletree Deakins offers some great tips for other organizations that have been inspired to create their own disaster preparedness or crisis management plans.
  4. This article from the Duane Morris Institute is short but sweet, covering the rules that apply when employees work extended hours because they’re unable to get home or they need to stay on site to keep things running during a disaster.
  5. The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) weighs in with this article covering many disaster-related wage and hour considerations. For instance: how should you handle “on-call” time? And what effect does taking on additional “non standard” duties during an emergency have on an employees exempt status?

Was your business affected by Hurricane Sandy? Have you been impacted by other natural disasters? Do you feel prepared to deal with the wage and hour implications of a crisis situation?

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