So, by now (Friday morning), your preparations at your workplace should be in full swing. The latest forecasts this morning call for a landfall on Sunday somewhere along the Connecticut coast (perhaps Bridgeport) with hurricane impacts felt throughout the state.
Connecticut has set up some new resources since my post yesterday specifically on Hurricane Irene. The 8 a.m. update is posted here. It is frequently updated and also has a list of people to follow on Twitter.
But so far, it’s not easy to find out about all storm-related workplace laws in one place on the state’s website. (How about an update Department of Labor?)
While a blog post cannot address all of the FAQs that might come up, I thought it would be helpful to discuss a few wage/hour issues. As always, consult with your legal counsel/advisor on any specific issues you have and how these laws might apply to your workplace.
Reporting Time or Minimum Daily Earnings Guaranteed: Connecticut has a “reporting time” obligation (as do several of our neighboring states). It is contained in various regulations and applies to certain industries like the “mercantile trade”. You should already be aware of this law, but it has particular application in storm situations where people may not work full shifts.
For example, in Conn. Regs. 31-62-D2(d) for stores, an employer who requests an employee to report to duty shall compensate that employee for a minimum of 4 hours regardless of whether any actual work ends up getting assigned. So if you bring your employees in on Sunday only to send them home 30 minutes later, you may be on the hook. For restaurant workers, it is typically a minimum of two hours (Conn. Regs. 31-62-E1)
Takeaway? For certain industries, be sure to know whether you will need to pay employees for a minimum amount of time if you send them home early from their shift.
Wage Agreements: Also be aware of any wage agreements (collective bargaining agreements mainly) that require you to provide employees with a guaranteed minimum number of work hours. Typically, these will need to be followed.
Hours Worked: Be aware of Connecticut’s “hours worked” regulation found in Conn. Regs. 31-60-11. That regulation says that “all time during which an employee is required to be on call for emergency service at a location designated by the employer shall be considered to be working time” regardless of whether the employee is called to work.
When an employee is on call, but is simply required to keep employer informed of whereabouts or until contacted by the employer, working time starts when the employee is notified of his assignment and ends when that employee is finished.
Other Questions: As you finish preparations, communications with your employees will continue to be important. Be sure to think about (and perhaps address) these questions in the coming days:
- What are the situations when an office will close?
- How will employee receive notice that an office is closed? Is there a central number that they can call for information? Will an e-mail be sent out to home or blackberry e-mails?
- Will employees be paid for the time when the business is closed?
- Will employees be paid if they don’t report to work due to inclement weather when the business is open?
- Will the employer discipline or discharge and employee for failing to report to work due to weather conditions when the business is open?
State Of Emergency:
I’ve discussed what Connecticut’s declaration of a state of emergency means in a prior (snow day related) post. For more information, A Connecticut Law Blog has a new post up this morning about it.
This promises to be quite a ride for all of us in Connecticut. I’m not quite sure with power outages if this blog will be able to be updated on Sunday with the latest. If not, please stay safe.
(There’s some other employment news going on, such as the NLRB’s release of some new final rules — including a new poster that may need to go up — but that business can wait until next week.)
And to keep our sense of humor even amid a crisis, I’ll close out our music theme for the week. Check out Billy Joel’s “Storm Front”. Or listen to this playlist from New Yorker magazine specifically for the hurricane.