As the East Coast braces for yet another hurricane, we should contemplate the impact that natural disasters can have on employees and employers, both personally and professionally. While individuals prepare their homes and employers prepare their businesses for the physical damage, employers will benefit from also assessing the practical and legal implications surrounding the unpredictable events Mother Nature throws our way—and planning accordingly.
Disaster Resource Center
Ogletree Deakins keeps employers prepared.
How employers navigate significant crises—from storms, inclement weather, and earthquakes to man-made disasters—can have a lasting impact on business operations, employers’ reputations with customers, and their workforces. Ogletree Deakins’ Disaster Resource Center provides employers with the information they need to be prepared for business interruptions and to recover in the aftermath of a devastating event.
On November 20, 2018, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced plans to assist those affected by the California wildfires. The DOL’s actions include relief efforts by a number of agencies.
As employers attempt to keep their businesses running and give their employees the time necessary to deal with the devastating impact of Hurricane Michael, employers should not disregard the significant employment laws that apply following a natural disaster or the opportunities provided by the federal government to assist workers to return to employment.
Similar to its September 17, 2018, National Interest Exemption (NIE) for certain contractors providing Hurricane Florence Relief, on October 11, 2018, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) issued a another NIE for new contracts specifically to provide Hurricane Michael relief.
On September 17, 2018, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) issued a National Interest Exemption (NIE) for certain employers that assist in Hurricane Florence relief activities.
As residents and employers on the East Coast are aware, Hurricane Florence is expected to make landfall shortly. This type of disaster can take a toll on businesses in the affected areas, from property damage to employee safety complications. Employers in the restaurant industry face a unique set of potential issues before, during, and after a disaster like a hurricane.
The National Hurricane Center has stated that Hurricane Florence, which is classified as a Category 4 storm, may hit the East Coast as early as Thursday, September 13. As a result, residents of North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and the surrounding areas are preparing for 130 mph winds, floods, and heavy rains (and in some cases, evacuating the affected areas). Businesses with operations or employees in those areas could also be affected by power interruptions, disrupted communications, and transportation difficulties—in addition to concerns over their employees’ safety.
Puerto Rico is still reeling from the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Recently, the governor of Puerto Rico signed into law Act No. 115 of June 20, 2018, to promote recovery efforts and provide much-needed aid to affected non-exempt employees in situations of emergency.
The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) recently posted an advisory notice regarding the wildfires that have been afflicting Southern California.
With the havoc wrought by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, employers are exploring options to provide emergency relief to those employees who have encountered financial hardship to meet their necessities and repair their homes in the wake of the disaster. Occasionally, aid from employers to employees comes in the form of disaster-relief monetary payments and interest-free loans.
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently announced that federal contractors will not be cited for filing their VETS-4212 reports late—as long as they are filed by November 15, 2017.
As catastrophic hurricanes threaten the southeastern region, Alabama employers may want to reflect on the state’s emergency response statute.
On August 31, 2017, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced that the agency will support Hurricane Harvey and Irma relief efforts in a number of ways, including by relaxing federal contractors’ requirements on a temporary basis. As part of the initiative, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) will be temporarily suspending certain requirements on federal contractors to allow “businesses involved in hurricane relief the ability to prioritize recovery efforts.”
With the peak of hurricane season here, the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey fresh in our minds, and Hurricane Irma approaching, Florida employers may want to familiarize themselves with employment laws that may be implicated in the event of a storm and be prepared to address storm-related issues, such as closing their businesses and resuming normal operations.
Before Hurricane Harvey unleashed its devastation on Texas and Louisiana, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Brock Long said, “People need to be the help before the help arrives.”
As employers reopen their doors for business in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, here are some key points to keep in mind regarding wage and hour issues related to the storm.
Hurricane Harvey has caused massive damage and displacement of individuals in southeast Texas. For employees who have been unable to work during the past week, and for those who may not be able to return to work in the near future, there is an obvious financial and emotional toll.
Evacuation orders are being issued as Hurricane Matthew is about to bear down on the Southeastern United States. Employees and employers working in areas affected by the oncoming storm are balancing their personal and professional lives during these anxious times. Natural disasters can have a devastating effect on individuals, businesses, management, employees, and customers. Power interruptions, disrupted communications, and transportation difficulties can create obstacles to the resumption of normal activity for your business. How an employer navigates a significant crisis can have a lasting impact on business operations, its reputation with customers, and more importantly its employees.