Paying Employees After Natural Disasters

Hurricane Sandy displaced up to 40,000 people from their homes and affected great numbers of small business owners and their employees as well. The damage will, unfortunately, run many businesses out but most will simply miss a few days or weeks of regular business due to power outages and cleanup.

So what about compensation during this time? Do employees still get paid while they wait for the business to open up? And what about employees who were themselves affected by the storm and require time off to care for their own injuries or homes?

I’ve actually talked about it before. All over the country throughout the year businesses are impacted by weather related emergencies. We often hear about weather related closures in the winter. Snow storms and blizzards close down businesses almost every year and bad driving conditions make it impossible for many to get to work.

The Business Shuts Down

As you may recall, whether an employee is paid for their time not at work depends on their status as an exempt or non-exempt employee. Non-exempt employees don’t need to be paid for time they are not working. Under certain circumstances exempt employees probably do.

Employees only need to be compensated for the shutdown of the business when the business was open and the employees worked for some portion of the workweek. On weeks when the business was totally shutdown, employees don’t need to be paid.

So, in the first week after Hurricane Sandy hit, exempt employees probably did need to be paid since the Hurricane hit in the middle of the workweek. For businesses which remain closed and are not open a single day during the subsequent weeks, their employees do not need to be paid.

More information about these rules and their exceptions.

The Employee Needs Time Off

An employer need not offer the employee time to care for his own situation like cleaning up, finding a new place to live, or searching for loved ones. But if the employer chooses she may grant personal time off and, if the employee qualifies, he may take FMLA leave.

More information about what qualifies for FMLA leave.

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