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Natural Disaster Preparedness For Businesses

Many of you may recall the New Year’s flood that happened in Reno in 1997. An estimated $167,000,000 to $619,000,000 worth of damage occurred to businesses along the Truckee River and it claimed at least one life. Lately, wildfires have ravaged the West Coast, derechos have hit the Midwest, and hurricanes have decimated the Southeast. Will the next big natural disaster strike Nevada? Is your company ready? Here are some tips to prepare for a natural disaster.

Tips Businesses Can Take to Prepare For A Natural Disaster

  1. Update your emergency evacuation and communications plan. Ensure employee safety is the highest priority. Belongings can be replaced, but the lives of your employees cannot be.
  2. Maintain accurate emergency contact information for employees.
  3. Cross-train employees to ensure coverage of essential work duties.
  4. Back up important data, such as printed employee paperwork and computer drives.
  5. Be prepared for those employees that may be activated for disaster relief response through the National Guard or Military Reserve. USERRA does not mandate a minimum amount of time or method of notification, other than it must be “timely.” It can be provided orally or in writing and by the employee or their commanding officer.
  6. Consider closing your business before the natural disaster, if at all possible.
  7. Stock up on any business supplies that are essential to your business. Also, stock up on emergency items such as bottled water, hand sanitizer, gloves, flashlights, and batteries.
  8. Communicate your plans with your employees, vendors, and clients.
  9. Remember that, generally under the Fair Labor and Standards Act, exempt employees must be paid their full salary for any time worked during a workweek, even if the worksite is closed for less than a full workweek. Have a plan for how you will pay employees timely should your payroll processes be disrupted.

Some helpful resource for employers are the federal OSHA website https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/emergencypreparedness/ and the U.S. Small Business Association website: https://www.sba.gov/business-guide/manage-your-business/prepare-emergencies

If you need help creating a natural disaster emergency plan, contact us to learn more.

Bailey Cummins, PHR, is a member of the HRinDemand team, a human resources company in Reno, NV, offering expert guidance and easy-to-use tools to help small businesses with employment regulations, compliance, employee relations, and company growth.  

Sources:

Duane Morris LLP. When Disaster Strikes: Pay, Leave and Related Issues. https://www.shrm.org/ResourcesAndTools/hr-topics/compensation/Pages/Disasters.aspx

Department of Labor.  USERRA- Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act. https://www.dol.gov/agencies/vets/programs/userra

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