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5 Steps to Preparing Your Business for Severe Weather


With the effects of global warming becoming increasingly tangible, workplaces are more susceptible than ever to the effects of disaster weather. In the unfortunate event that your workplace is affected by a weather accident, paychecks will be delayed, employees may need to use unplanned PTO, and employees with children will be beholden to school closures. Taking preventative action now will minimize the disruptive effects of these situations if and when that time comes. In turn, the knowledge that their safety and well-being is being prioritized will put your employees at ease.

5 steps you can take to prepare right now:

  1. Ask the right questions. What event is most likely to occur? If you’re in Texas, it’s probably a flash flood. In New England, maybe it’s a blizzard. Then ask yourself how the event would affect the workplace. Will it make it hard for employees to get to work? Can they perform their work remotely? Will paychecks be delayed?

  2. When severe weather occurs, there are usually at least several hours of local news alerts beforehand. Set a threshold for when employees will be sent home based on safety levels. If your area is ill-equipped for snow, perhaps you’ll send employees home once the weather alerts predict over 5 inches of snow. Setting the threshold now will prevent you from making an ill-advised decision based on the business whims of that particular day when the time comes.

  3. There are some cases of extreme weather, like earthquakes, for which there may be little warning. Sign up for a Red Cross training, or better yet, host a training in the workplace. Having one or two people onsite who can administer CPR and first aid may save a life in the event that your workplace is affected by a natural disaster. Keep basic first aid supplies and an AED in the office, and make sure employees are required to file their emergency contact information during the onboarding process.

  4. Familiarize yourself with FLSA leave laws surrounding employee absences that may take place during inclement weather. Exempt employees will receive their full pay if the workplace is closed due to inclement weather, but exempt employees who chose not to come in due to weather when the workplace is open may be required to forgo pay or use paid leave. Non-exempt employees will only be paid for hours actually worked. See a detailed breakdown of the laws here.

  5. Transition your payroll to 100% direct deposit. If roads are flooded, covered in ice, or otherwise hazardous, chances are paycheck delivery will be delayed. If paychecks do somehow make it to their destinations, your employees will then have to brave the weather conditions to cash their checks if they want access to their money. Eliminating paper checks and moving to a fully electronic payments system will ensure your employees always get paid on time, regardless of weather. Learn more about how to achieve 100% direct deposit here.

More resources:

Federal Emergency Management Agency

Red Cross

Occupational Safety & Health Administration

United States Department of Labor

Center for Disease Control & Prevention

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