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CPI: 0.5% (Sep 2017) 
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 Sep 2017


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How to Treat Employees During Disasters

How to treat employees during a disaster is one of the difficult questions faced by employers.

Retaining employees is crucial to the revival of the business.  In the middle of a disaster is not the time to hire new employees.  Relying on employees who are familiar with the inner workings of the business can get things back up and running quickly.  But, do you need all hands on deck in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. 

There are two central questions an employer must answer:  For employees who can't come to work because the business is closed what status do you place them in?  When the business reopens what do you do with employees who can't make it to work? 

The business is temporarily closed:


If the business is closed these are the options an employer have:


- You don't have to pay hourly workers if they didn't work.  You are only required to pay them for hours worked. 


- An employee that works fluctuating workweeks for a fix salary is required to be paid for each week whether or not they worked that week. [DOL]. 


-  Fulltime salary employees (exempt) are required to be paid even if the business is temporarily closed due to a disaster.  These employees could be allowed to utilize their leave time during this period.

The Business is Open but employees can't get to work:


An employee may not be able to return to work after the business has reopened for a number of reasons.  These reasons could include; roadway closure, lack of transportation, family emergency, personal emergency, etc.  If this is the case these are the things that can be done.


-  An employee can take personal leave (Annual Leave or Sick Leave)


-  The employer can place the employee in a Leave Without Pay status


-  The employee can take Family and Medical Leave (under the FMLA).


-  The employer can (if the circumstances permit) allow the employee to work from home or an alternate worksite

Doing these things will enable your small business to retain their employees and get back on it's feet quickly after a disaster.


Department of Labor (DOL)
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

By Wendy Stewart














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