Any business, at any time, could suffer a catastrophic event. And, if owners don’t plan now, before a disaster happens, then planning for bankruptcy is their next step.
Fisher Phillips is huge law firm specializing in business issues. Its “News and Events” page on the firm website is a treasure trove of great management advice. Thanks to one of its partners, Edward Harold, the firm addressed how businesses should prepare for catastrophe. It’s simple advice and it could save a business owner’s financial future.
Harold’s article appeared in a recent edition of a local newspaper (we’ve since lost the link, sorry), and, while the article focused on hurricanes, we know they are not the only disaster than can strike businesses large or small at any time.
Smart business owners don’t procrastinate when it comes to planning for a catastrophes, especially if they’re in the survival, self-reliant world. Right? Right!
If you don’t have a written plan for your business, here’s a great primer for getting started:
Plan Ahead – Prepare For The Worst!
Every business should have a plan in writing in case of an emergency. In developing your policy, stress the importance of your workers’ safety, and be mindful of and attempt to mitigate against possible hazards (such as accidents while operating a motor vehicle or otherwise commuting to and from work, problems caused by power outages and downed power lines and any other safety concerns in the workplace).
The plan should address the following:
• Weather events or other emergencies that could force a workplace closure (loss of power, hurricanes, governor-declared shut downs, flooding, etc.).
• Means for employee notification of closure, such as call or text trees, radio-station announcements, intranet, etc.
• Advise employees that they should not attempt to travel to work in unsafe conditions and to contact their supervisors as soon as possible.
• Address whether, and to what extent, employees may work from home.
• Identify “key” employees who might be required to work during emergency situations.
Update Contact Lists
It’s easy to lose track of people, especially during an evacuation. Ensure you have the latest contact information for every employee and back up numbers, in case of power outages and relocation.
Remember Katrina: Cell phones are not always the best option. In the event of a disaster, ask for evacuation plans of employees.
Keep The (Time) Clock Running
Remember the multitude of legal rules regarding leave time and employee pay. Exempt employees must be paid their full salary for any week in which they perform work if you close your business, even if it’s only for a portion of the week.
You generally do not need to pay nonexempt employees for any time that they do not actually perform work. If your business closes due to the hurricane, your employees may be eligible for unemployment compensation.Some states have a “no show-up pay law” if workers attempt to report to work but the workplace is closed.
Returning to Business as Usual
Determining when employees have to return to work depends on the employer. Employee safety should be top priority. If there is a mandatory evacuation, you cannot expect employees to return until the municipality has been given an all clear.
Workplace conditions need to be thoroughly evaluated post-storm. Think: no standing water, reliable source of power, clean drinking water and usable facilities.
Because every state has different laws, and every crisis is unique, it’s best to put a plan together with an expert, or a team of experts. A knowledgable attorney, a human resources professional and a communications expert make for a great team.
Bottom line: if business owners don’t have a crisis plan, in writing, within reach, they’re only planning for failure, potential lawsuits, and bankruptcy.
If not now, when?