Federal rules require employers to ensure that employees know what to do in an emergency and how to evacuate the workplace if disaster strikes. Employees who work during an emergency must be paid for those hours. If an employer lays off or terminates employees because of an emergency or disaster, state laws generally establish standards for final payment. Employers must provide time off for employees to care for themselves or family members after a disaster.
The decision to close in an emergency should be an integral part of emergency planning and not a spur-of-the-moment afterthought. Employers need to establish a detailed plan for closing the facility, including what circumstances will lead to a closing, who makes the decision, how the decision is communicated, and what to do about employee compensation. These are decisions that should be made in advance and clearly communicated to employees, not left to chance or to the conditions of the moment.
Mandatory evacuations. Local and state authorities may issue mandatory evacuations, enforced by police, that companies must abide by. Have policies in place to address when a facility is in an evacuation area and when employees are under mandatory evacuation from their homes.
Forced vacations for a closed business. The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not require an employer to provide vacation time. If an employer closes its business because of an emergency, it may require exempt employees to use any accrued vacation time. However, if the exempt employee has no accrued vacation time, the employee must be paid for those days missed, unless the business is closed for an entire workweek. If the business is closed for only part of the ...