In the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, evacuation orders are
lifting and recovery efforts are in their early stages. Employers
are facing a number of storm-related issues as they prepare to
resume normal operations. Here are just a few of the questions
employers are asking.
1. Does the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) require me to
pay employees who miss work because of the weather?
It depends on whether the employee is exempt or non-exempt. If the business closes
because of the weather, the FLSA requires employers to pay an
exempt employee his or her regular salary for any shutdown that
lasts less than a week. If the business remains open but an
employee cannot get to work because of the weather, an employer can
deduct an exempt employee's salary for a full day's
absence. Employers generally aren't required to pay nonexempt
employees for any days that they don't perform any actual work.
However, this doesn't apply to nonexempt employees who are paid
on a fluctuating workweek basis.
2. Am I required to pay an employee for on-call
time? Under the FLSA, if the employer requires an employee
to be on-call while the office is closed due to weather emergency
and the employee cannot effectively use the time for his or her own
purposes, the employer must pay the employee for the on-call
time. Employers are not required to pay employees who are at
home and available to the employer but able to use the time for
their own purposes. Check your state laws for any additional
3. Are employees who are discharged as a result of
the storm entitled to unemployment compensation? Employees
who are out of work for reasons other than their own misconduct
generally are entitled to unemployment compensation as long as they
have met the state law requirements. In some states, an
employer's unemployment compensation account isn't charged
when an employee is discharged because of a natural disaster.
4. Are workers' compensation claims the exclusive
remedy for employees who are injured at work due to conditions that
resulted from a tropical storm or hurricane? Generally,
employees who are injured during the course and scope of employment
are limited to workers' compensation claims and cannot sue the
employer in court over the injuries. If, however, the injuries are
the result of an employer's deliberate or intentional conduct
rather than an accident, the employee may have the ability to sue
the employer in court. Employers should check their state laws.
Employers may be faced with a variety of employment-related
issues during the hurricane season. As Hurricane Matthew recovery
efforts continue, it's important to keep in mind that employers
are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for
their employees. Employers are required to protect workers
from the anticipated hazards associated with the response and
recovery operations that workers are likely to conduct. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration
(OSHA) has some excellent resources available on its website to
help employers make decisions to protect workers.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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