What’s your plan June 1 through November 30- Are You Ready?
Hurricane Season started June 1. If your organization is vulnerable to hurricanes, it is important to act now. As a business leader, understand your risk, develop a preparedness and mitigation plan, and take action.
Doing so will not only increase the safety of employees and customers, but it will help you remain in business after disasters, such as tropical storms and hurricanes, strike. How you handle this event will demonstrate your values to each employee, regardless of whether they were impacted by the storm or not.
Human Resources plays a vital role in this process when it relates to the most valuable resource: your employees.
Here are some tips for businesses and HR Professionals as we enter this critical season.
Before the Storm
1. Much before Hurricane season, have an Inclement Weather policy in your handbook, which clearly outlines how employees will be paid (if you still issue manual checks or if you are unable to process payroll), compensation for time off (you can always be more generous later regarding paid time during the storm), what happens when the office is closed, where to call for information about reporting to work, and office preparedness, if applicable. Also, email this policy as a reminder to all employees and/or post on Company intranet before and during hurricane season.
2. Designate who will remain at the workplace during the storm (if business needs require someone to remain) and who will work after the storm (cleanup debris, bring relief supplies, etc.).
3. Have emergency supplies on hand for those who remain at the worksite if you provide your worksite as a shelter for employees and their families or if you will have employees on-site during the storm for business reasons.
4. Have a backup plan for payroll, business continuity, and client/public communication.
5. Be prepared for any military leaves which may be requested immediately following the storm. Know who your military employees are in advance. These employees’ jobs are protected under law, and you should seek guidance when providing a military leave of absence.
1. Communication before, during and after a storm are critical for your business and your employees’ well-being and peace of mind.
2. Remind employees now to update their contact information.
3. Run an Employee Contact Report, so you can be sure all authorized persons have this data available, even if there is no longer power at the place of work. Modern technology sometimes provides this information on cell phones, but towers may be down, so print a few hard copies just before the storm.
4. Remind employees of basic hurricane safety tips, including animal shelter, medication refills, gas for their vehicles and hurricane supplies.
5. Establish a hot-line phone number, if none was previously created, or an email address where employees can contact you for instructions on work schedules.
6. Repeatedly make it clear to your employees their safety comes first, and they should not travel to work if there is a public advisory to not travel.
7. Be sure to provide all employees with the EAP number and have emergency contact information posted on your company intranet or email to all employees before the storm, to their work and home email addresses.
8. Contact each employee after the storm, to inquire about their safety and well-being. Offer support in ways such as time off, water, food, clothes, cleanup teams provided by the company and if available, financial assistance or shelter.
9. You may want to monitor social media for any aid or donations being solicited by or on behalf of your employees.
Safety and Security
1. Be sure to always take your employees’ safety into consideration. OSHA standards describe the methods employers must use to protect their employees from hazards. These standards are in effect before and after the storm. Do not put your employees in harms way, keeping them at work until it’s too late to drive home safely. Consider there may be bridge closings or flooded areas which may require a longer route home.
2. Do not return employees to work, without emphasizing they should only return if it is safe for them to travel, be physically able to do so, etc.
1. Remember all Fair Labor Standards Rules still apply to your employees who are working remotely during the storm. Every email, text, phone call, etc., which is work-related is considered work and must be paid. This applies to both Exempt and Non-Exempt employees even if the company is closed. Be sure to communicate clearly when employees will and will not work.
2. Many organizations will provide compensation for the day of the storm, while others allow employees to use their PTO. Either way, this is not considered time worked, so it will not count towards overtime, unless your compensation policy indicates otherwise. Yet others choose to take unpaid time off, which may bring hardship on top of any damage they may have suffered. Be considerate during this time, it will go a long way in employee engagement.
3. The actions you take will be measured. This is not a time to be inflexible. It will go a long way for your employees who are suffering through this difficult time, if you provide flexibility in allowing them time to go home and prepare for the storm or get to shelter. The same goes for allowing them time after the storm to remove shutters, clean up debris, check on loved ones, etc.
For more information:
Federal Government Resources
Small Business Administration
News and Tracking
Law Firm Resources
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