Managing Work Crises When Disasters Strike

2 min read
hurricane disasters irma maria jose

It has been a trying time for Mexico, the Caribbean Islands, and the United States. Natural disasters have struck and have caused widespread destruction and have taken lives. Earthquakes in Mexico, Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean and in Florida and Hurricane Maria hitting the Caribbean as well.

At this time, we must come together and offer aid and support to help individuals rebuild their lives.

These disasters have also put a hold on work, and in preparation for Irma, Poprouser was shut for a couple of weeks. The neighborhood of Brickell in Miami, near where the company was located, was completely flooded and without power for some time.

Naturally, one of the many concerns on everyone’s mind during such a time, is the concern of their job: When do they get back to work? Are they to be compensated? Is there a possibility of losing their job?

For Employers

How do I pay my employees when operations are suspended?

  • Nonexempt employees do not have to be paid during the time of the disaster as the employer was unable to provide work. They are only required to be paid for hours worked.

“An exception to this general rule exists where there are employees who receive fixed salaries for fluctuating workweeks. These are nonexempt employees who have agreed to work an unspecified number of hours for a specified salary. An employer must pay these employees their full weekly salary for any week in which any work was performed.” (Source: SHRM)

  • Exempt employees are to be paid their salary even if the company is closed or unable to reopen due to a natural disaster. “However, an employer may require exempt employees to use allowed leave for this time.” (Source: SHRM)

For Employees

Can I take leave post-disaster to attend to personal matters resulting from the disaster?

  • An employer is under no obligation (under the FMLA) to give an employee time off to attend to a personal matter. Here’s one case study.

Am I able to take time off after natural disasters?

  • If post-disaster, the employee has received a serious health condition due to the disaster, they are entitled to take leave. This is also applicable if they have a child, spouse or parent who has received a serious health condition due to the disaster. (Source: SHRM)


Further reading: Crisis Management and Disaster Planning for Employers


There are of course many other questions you may have, and I’d recommend the further reading to learn more. At Poprouser, we encourage everyone to come together during this difficult time and offer support to one another.

Raghav Suri

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