Hurricane season is officially here. Are you prepared?   

 

As we begin hurricane season, business owners in several states need to prepare for the potential impact of a storm on their operations and employees. From property damage to power outages and employee time off, there are many factors to consider when managing your workforce during severe weather conditions.  

 

In this guide, our team at Vested HR provides answers to some frequently asked questions about how inclement weather can affect your business. Let’s get started! 

world newspaper on desk with hurricane season as headline

Tips for Weather Hurricane Season 

 

Hurricane season is always a stressful time for business owners. The threat of a storm can cause significant disruptions to operations, particularly when it comes to staffing. As a business owner, it’s crucial to be prepared for anything that may arise during this unpredictable season. 

 

#1. Have a Plan in Place 

 

It’s essential to have a solid emergency plan in place that outlines how your business will operate during and after the storm. This plan should include provisions for remote work arrangements, such as telecommuting or working from home ( if applicable to your business. 

 

Moreover, another critical aspect is communication—make sure everyone within the organization is aware of what’s going on before, during, and after the hurricane hits. 

 

#2. Backup Your Data

 

An essential aspect of disaster preparedness is backing up your data regularly and making sure it’s accessible off-site. Cloud data solutions are ideal options for businesses looking to protect their valuable information. 

 

Not only do cloud data solutions provide secure off-site storage, but they also offer flexibility and accessibility. With cloud storage, you can access your data from anywhere with an internet connection, making it easy to work remotely or on the go. 

 

#3. Ensure Your Insurance Coverage is Up to Date 

 

Make sure you have coverage for property damage caused by hurricanes. This includes any damage caused by flooding or windstorms during a hurricane.  

 

You may also want to consider business interruption coverage as this provides financial assistance if your business has to close temporarily due to storm damage. It can help cover lost income, employee salaries, and expenses incurred while getting your business back on track. 

 

Also, check if you’re covered for losses related to power outages or supply chain disruptions caused by hurricanes. These events can significantly impact businesses in affected areas, so ensuring your policy includes these protections is essential. 

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Hurricane Season FAQs 

 

While this is not an exhaustive list, here are some FAQs  we get during hurricane season:  

 

Do I Have to Pay Employees For Days Missed Due to an Evacuation? 

 

In most cases, employers are not obligated to pay non-exempt employees who miss work due to evacuating because they’re not performing any work during that time.  

 

However, exempt employees must receive their full weekly salary if they perform any work at all during the week in which they were absent due to evacuation. Therefore, if an exempt employee checks emails or makes phone calls while evacuated, they’re considered “on duty” and must receive their full salary for that week. 

 

Can I Terminate Employees Who Fail to Show Up for Work During a Hurricane?

 

The short answer is no, you cannot terminate employees solely because they failed to show up for work due to a hurricane or other natural disaster. Doing so would violate federal and state laws that protect workers from discrimination based on their membership in protected classes such as race, sex, age, disability status, and religion.  

 

Additionally, such actions could leave your company open to legal liabilities and damage your reputation within the community. 

 

However, this does not mean that you are powerless as an employer during hurricane season. You can set clear policies regarding how employees are expected to communicate with management during emergencies.  

 

Should I Provide Family and Medical Leave During a Hurricane? 

 

Employees who qualify may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave annually for specific family or medical reasons under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). However, its provisions do not specifically address natural disasters like hurricanes. Some employers may choose to provide additional paid or unpaid leave as part of their disaster preparedness plans, while others may require employees to use vacation or personal time off. 

 

Ultimately, the decision whether to provide family and medical leave during hurricane-related situations will depend on factors such as company policies, state laws and regulations, and the specific circumstances surrounding each storm. 

 

Are Employees Who Were Discharged Due to the Aftermath of a Hurricane Entitled to Unemployment? 

 

According to the Department of Labor, employees who were working at the time of the disaster and are no longer able to work due to damage caused by the storm or flooding may be eligible for unemployment benefits.  

 

This includes employees who have been laid off or had their hours reduced as a direct result of the disaster. In addition, individuals who were self-employed or worked as independent contractors may also qualify for unemployment compensation if they meet certain requirements. 

 

Note: Each state has guidelines when it comes to eligibility for unemployment compensation after a natural disaster so reach out to our team if you have any questions about your specific state’s regulations.  

 

More > How Does a PEO Simplify HR Compliance? 

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Weather the Storm with Vested HR  

 

Hurricane season is a time of uncertainty and potential danger for businesses. However, with the right preparations in place, you can minimize the impact of a catastrophic storm on your company. Our HR team at Vested HR is committed to helping you navigate this challenging period with expert guidance and support.  

 

Don’t hesitate to reach out to us at (844) 928-0925 or (727) 474-2114 for assistance in protecting your workforce and ensuring business continuity during this year’s hurricane season. Most of all, stay safe!