We're halfway through hurricane season and the Eastern United States has already gotten a glimpse of this season's stormy weather and uncertainty with last month's Elsa, which teetered back-and-forth between a hurricane and tropical storm, and more recently, Hurricane Henri.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center is anticipating another above-normal Atlantic hurricane season. Business owners have much to consider when it comes to storm preparedness: protecting the company and its employees.
Click here to view FEMA’s Hurricane Ready Business Toolkit.
Preparing in Advance
We can't control mother nature, but we can control how we prepare. Check out the recommended action items below and take care of them as soon as possible, if you have not done so already.
- Have your buildings inspected, and complete maintenance to ensure they can withstand severe weather.
- Review your business continuity plan and update it as needed, including employee contact information.
- Get your emergency plan ready. This includes building emergency supply kits, mapping out evacuation routes and procedures, and designating personnel to handle specific duties.
- Communicate key elements of the plan with employees, including post-event and work/payroll procedures. Make sure all employees have a copy of the plan.
- Review emergency shutdown and start-up procedures, such as electrical systems, with appropriate personnel.
- Test both your business continuity and emergency preparedness/response plans.
When a storm is imminent, safeguard employee and client data. Update your network and back it up to a second location or cloud so you can access it remotely. Even if your employees don’t typically work from home, they may have to work from a remote location following a storm.
Hurricane season is a good time to check on the language in your employee handbook. Make sure leave policies are clear and concise, specifically those related to emergencies. Your employees should know how to contact you or HR, in the event they need to take time off due to injuries, health conditions, or any other emergencies. Remind employees to evacuate with their insurance cards, policy numbers, and contact information.
Compensating Your Employees
- Are paid for time spent working.
- Are entitled to overtime for working in excess of 40 hours per week.
- May use paid-time-off (PTO) or take time off unpaid depending on policy.
- Are paid a full salary if any work is performed during the workweek unless the employee misses a day for personal reasons. If the office is open but the employee chooses to stay home, that’s considered a personal reason.
- May not have deductions taken for partial-day absences.
Paying employees during and after a storm can be complicated if you’re not prepared. Be sure to implement a mechanism to capture time worked. Failure to do so exposes you to liability under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
Employers have to make a plan to compensate employees who don’t have direct deposit. That could mean mailing checks to an employee’s home or setting up a pick-up station at a safe location. In Florida, employees must be paid at least monthly.
If you can’t get your employee paid in this time frame, document your extenuating circumstances carefully. To avoid being at the mercy of the weather or the postal service, consider switching to paperless payroll options.
Staying in Contact
It's important to communicate with your employees before, during, and after a storm. Here are some ways you can connect:
- Have a text alert and emergency notification system to send critical messages.
- Set up a toll-free number with a message for employees to check regularly (include the date and time of the last update).
- Post messages for employees on your intranet.
- Utilize communication apps and social media.
After the storm, evaluate your plans and communications to see what was successful and what can be improved. Partnering with FrankCrum grants you access to a team of experts. Click here to learn how FrankCrum can help you.