Overview: No matter what precautions are taken to stop it, natural disasters are outside of the employer's control. No amount of wishing it away will get rid of a hurricane, a blizzard, a volcano or any other activity that nature throws at the workplace. Instead of fighting it, employers should prepare with an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) and much practice.
Employers should identify the types of natural disasters that are likely to affect the workplace. An employer in Kansas might not need a plan to respond to a volcano, for example, where a Hawaiian employer might. While it is good to be prepared for anything, and a good EAP will be flexible for the unexpected, the focus for plans should be on what is likely.
Once a risk analysis has determined what specific plans and building safeguards are needed at a workplace, which is part of a good risk management plan, employers can create plans and nature-proof the buildings. Before any weather actually hits, though, the workplace should be drilled to test the plans and to make sure that employees know what to do when nature strikes. The better and more often the drills, the better prepared the employer will be to handle anything nature throws its way.
Trends: For the last several years, the weather has been increasingly less predictable. For this reason, it is extra important for employers to be prepared for a wide variety of natural disasters that could hit the workplace.
Author: Ashley Shaw, JD, Legal Editor
Generally, the FMLA does not require employers to provide leave in order for employees to manage their personal situations. However, there are times that employees affected by a natural disaster may be entitled to FMLA leave or whose impairments may also constitute a disability under the ADA.
XpertHR's editors have compiled a list of available resources to help employers manage the myriad of employment challenges that natural disasters such as hurricanes spawn.
An employer may use this policy to reduce risk, protect stakeholder's interest and ensure continuation of services in the midst of a catastrophic event or natural disaster.
Employers need to have an emergency action plan in place, devised carefully and in review of the most current policies and legal issues, with specific responses in place for employees to follow. This How To provides steps for communicating with employees in the event of an emergency, since the emergency may occur out of the vicinity where employees can heed supervisors' direction.
Before a crisis occurs, employers should have an emergency preparedness plan and business continuity plan in place. This How To assists employers in keeping a business running after an emergency.
Employment glossary definition of Contingency Planning.
Employment glossary definition of Disaster Recovery Plan.
Employment glossary definition of Disaster Unemployment Insurance.
Employment glossary definition of Emergency Action Plan (EAP).
HR guidance on preparing for and responding to natural disasters.