I hope everyone has managed to stay safe and as dry as
possible over the past few days. With Hurricane Sandy starting to move out of
the region Tuesday evening, I wanted to post about a few issues employers and
employees face in the wake of a natural disaster.
The Department of Labor has produced a fact sheet about
federal employment and wage laws during natural disasters. Most of the fact
sheet concerns wage requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act, which
requires employers to pay employees no less than the federal minimum wage for
hours worked. The guide contains handy information about a variety of topics,
including a hotline to call if employment records have been destroyed, unemployment
information for out-of-work employees, compensation for volunteer work, and
payment for part-time work. There are also a variety of phone numbers and links
on the fact sheet that may be useful to employers.
The FMLA Insights blog has a great post about whether
employees are eligible for FMLA leave when a natural disaster strikes. To sum
up succinctly, the FMLA does not require employers to give employees time off
to attend to personal matters, but it can require time off where a disaster
causes an employee to suffer a “serious health condition” or require that he
care for a spouse, child, or parent with a similar health condition or medical
The Society For Human Resource Management provides
information about pay and leave issues in the wake of a natural disaster. The
post goes through a variety of federal legal issues, including FLSA and FMLA
issues, and looks at the difference between exempt and non-exempt employees.
The post also has a good section that looks at ERISA benefits in the wake of a
disaster, and the OSHA requirements an employer make have to comply with to
make the workplace safe again after disaster-related damage.
Finally, the Wage and Hour Defense blog looks at
some more FLSA issues, including whether on-call employees (such as IT
professionals) need to be compensated for time spent at home that the employees
could not use for their own purposes. The blog also discusses whether employers
should set up “weather days” for employees to use for absences related to the