With hurricane season upon us, employers are justifiably concerned about the potential impact of a natural disaster on their business. A hurricane, natural disaster, or any other crisis in the workplace, can bring a business to a screeching halt and devastate the lives of a business’ most valuable asset, its employees. This article was first published in the wake of Hurricane Katrina based on lessons learned in managing through that crisis. These lessons continue to ring true year after year, crisis after crisis. Thus, we continue to update and republish this article each hurricane season.
To minimize the impact of a natural disaster, employers should have plans in place before disaster strikes, including, for example, a crisis management plan, a communications plan, and a disaster response and recovery plan. These plans must take into account the effect a catastrophe may have on workers and include ways to help impacted employees return to work as soon as practical to ensure continued productivity of your workplace even in the face of personal loss. Any enacted plan should consider the application of relevant federal and state laws to ensure compliance and avoid any employment-related lawsuits or any agency enforcement actions following a natural disaster.