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Posted on October 26, 2012
The potential arrival of Hurricane Sandy in New England on Monday and Tuesday is prompting employers throughout the region to revisit disaster-preparation plans honed in recent years by tornadoes, flooding and freak snowstorms.
“The overriding concern of employers must be the safety and well-being of employees and their families. The willingness of an employer to recognize that employees may be distracted for a day or two dealing with a natural disaster creates a good measure of loyalty in the long run,” said Gary MacDonald, Executive Vice President of the AIM Employer’s Resource Group.
The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) offers the following recommendations for employers preparing for a storm:
How do you determine what to pay workers if your company is shut down for any period of time?
Massachusetts regulations define reporting pay this way: “When an employee who is scheduled to work three or more hours reports for duty . . . and that employee is not provided with the expected hours of work, the employee shall be paid for at least three hours on such day at no less than the basic minimum wage.”
Here are specific examples:
Many companies find it too difficult to rely on managers to reach all employees in a timely fashion before they report to work. Employers wishing to avoid this problem should consider establishing a phone message loop and require that all employees call into the message system before leaving their house if there is a risk of closing due to the weather.
Put the requirement in your handbook and make sure all employees are aware of it. And then enforce the rule. That means that if someone ignores it and reports to work when you were closed, you will owe the employee show-up pay, but you may also discipline the employee for violating the policy.
Alternatively, employers should use local media (radio and television) to communicate that they are closed. While you may also post the closing notice on your Web site, remember that asking employees to check the Web site/email prior to leaving for work may invite requests to be paid for that time by non-exempt employees.
Although an employer is required to pay only minimum wage, many companies elect to pay employees their actual wage for the three or four hours (half day pay) in the interest of employee relations. Most AIM members pay more than minimum wage. According to the AIM’s Statewide Compensation Survey:
If a non-exempt employee wants to be paid for the balance of the day (5 hours), allow the employee to charge paid time off to make up for the lost pay.
AIM will be in contact with state officials throughout any storm, and will communicate information on this new blog, and on Twitter, @aimbusinessnews, #MASandy, #Sandy, #HurricaneSandy. Here are other resources for employers: