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Hurricane Sandy: Have Employers Learned the Lessons From Last Year’s Storms?

Posted in Highlight, Human Resources (HR) Compliance, Wage & Hour

We interrupt our normally scheduled post on a recent Second Circuit case….

Monday is an anniversary that many of us in Connecticut will long remember – the anniversary of the big October snowstorm (or “Alfred” as Channel 3 called it).   Combine that storm with Irene earlier in 2011, and we’ve seen more than our share of storms recently. 

Lots of Tricks

Just like the Ice Storm of 1973, these storms had devasting consequences and made work quite difficult for employers. 

The forecasts on Thursday just got a lot more serious with Sandy heading up the coast taking dead aim at the Northeast.

Are we in for a repeat?

First off, employers should, by now, understand the rules regarding “reporting pay” and whether you need to pay employees when your office is closed, even due to power outage out of your control.  For more information, there are several posts out there on the subject like this one

But more importantly, the time is now for employers to break out all the lessons learned from those storms and start implementing them. What are some of things to still consider?

  • Emergency contact information for getting in touch with employees. This includes having backup numbers in case of widespread power outages. With mobile phones being used so readily, that’s a great place to start but even those aren’t entirely useful either when the power to the cell towers goes down too. 
  • Clear communications to employees about what should happen in the event of a storm. Who should they call? Where can they find the information? Will your e-mail work to them?
  • Rules for human resources to follow regarding absences.
  • Amending your policies so employees understand when time out of the office (even for power outages) may or may not count towards PTO. 

This may be a long duration storm.  It goes without saying that we should plan for the worst and hope for the best.  Let’s just hope we don’t have a repeat of last year. 

For more on storms, snow days, hurricanes, and other natural disasters (!), you can find some prior posts here, here, here, and here.

  • Kelly

    If your employee payed you in the past when they closed due to weather and have now decided not to pay for closure due to sandy my question is do they need to notify you? Do they need to put a policy in place before they close??