Smart Benefits: 4 Things to Know About Inclement Weather & Closing Policies

Monday, September 17, 2018

 

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With hurricane season underway, employers want to make sure employees are safe. And that means closures are sometimes inevitable. Here’s what you need to know about closing due to a weather emergency.

  • Have a Policy: Make sure your employee handbook contains an inclement weather policy that outlines issues like how you’ll make closure determinations, announce closings to all employees, and handle pay.
  • Spell Out Employees’ Rights: Hourly and salaried employees are treated differently when it comes to work hours. Nonexempt employees, under the FLSA, are only required to be paid for the hours they work so if the business is closed for the entire day, they’re not entitled to any payment. Salaried, or exempt, employees on the other hand must be paid if the office is closed as long as they are available to work and worked any portion of the payroll week. (That means a business doesn’t have to pay exempt employees if weather focuses a closure for a full workweek since no work was performed.)
  • Consider Your Vacation Policies: Depending on an employer’s policies, employees can be allowed, or required, to use vacation or paid time off for business closures because of inclement weather.
  • Beware Those Who Report to Work: In Rhode Island, and certain other states, nonexempt employees who show up as scheduled to a closed workplace must be paid for a certain set minimum amount of time. Even if they don’t perform any work, the state requires they be paid for at least three hours at their regular rate.

 

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Rob Calise is the Managing Director, Employee Benefits of The Hilb Group of New England, where he helps clients control the costs of employee benefits by focusing on consumer-driven strategies and on how to best utilize the tax savings tools the government provides. Rob serves as Chairman of the Board of United Benefit Advisors, and is a board member of the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of RI Broker Advisory Board, United HealthCare of New England Broker Advisory Board and Rhode Island Business Healthcare Advisors Council. He is also a member of the National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU), American Health Insurance Association (AHIA) and the Employers Council on Flexible Compensation (ECFC), as well as various human resource associations. Rob is a graduate of Bryant University with a BS in Finance

 

Related Slideshow: 10 Things to Know About Hurricane Florence - September 2018

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Florence Making Landfall 

According to the National Hurricane Center, the storm is expected to make landfall by Thursday morning and could be as strong as a Category 3 storm.

However, the center adds that there is a chance the storm reaches land by late Wednesday night. 

"The earliest reasonable time that tropical-storm-force winds could arrive in the United States from #Florence is late Wednesday, and the most likely time is Thursday morning. Wednesday should be the last full day to prepare, so plan accordingly," said the Hurricane Center. 

 

PHOTO: National Hurricane Center 

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58 MPH Winds Possible 

Hurricane Florence could bring winds up to 58 miles per hour to the Carolinas and Virginia. 

"Florence is likely to cause damaging hurricane-force winds along parts of the coasts of South & North Carolina, & a Hurricane Watch is in effect for some of this area. Damaging winds could also spread well inland into portions of the Carolinas & Virginia," said the National Hurricane Center. 

 

PHOTO: National Hurricane Center 

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Evacuations Under Way 

Evacuation has already started in the Carolinas with Hurricane Florence about to hit. 

According to the Washington Post, more than 1.5 million people have been ordered to evacuate the coastal areas ahead of the storm.

“Even if you’ve ridden out storms before, this one is different,” said North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper during a press conference on Tuesday. 

In order to speed up the process, the lanes of the highways have been reversed in order for everyone to be able to get out. 

North Carolina Emergency Management adds that prisons are evacuating staff and offenders to other state facilities due to Hurricane Florence.

Offenders will be given a free call to families this weekend.

 

PHOTO: Ross Arnette/twitter

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NOAA Plane Flies Through Florence 

A plane from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration flew through the eye of the storm. 

via GIPHY

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Rainfall Potential from Hurricane Florence 

According to the National Hurricane Center, some parts of the Carolina's could see up to 20 inches of rain. 

According to the chart, most of the area will see at least six to ten inches of rain. 

The Center notes that the forecast is valid until Tuesday, September 18 at 8 p.m. 

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Flash Flood Potential 

The National Hurricane Center chart shows that the majority of the area has a marginal to slight chance for flash flooding. 

However, areas right along the coast have a moderate to high percent chance of flooding. 

The forecast is valid through Friday, September 14. 

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President Trump Addresses Florence 

President Donald Trump addressed Hurricane Florence in a press conference from the Oval Office on Tuesday, September 11. 

"They haven't seen anything like what's coming at us in 25, 30 years, maybe ever. It's tremendously big and tremendously wet," said Trump. 

Trump went on to advise everyone to get out of Florence's path. 

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Biggest Storm Ever North of Florida 

Hurricane Florence could be the biggest hurricane ever to hit north of Florida, according to Business Insider. 

The biggest hurricane to previously hit South Carolina was Hurricane Hugo in 1989.

That hurricane brought 130 mph winds. 

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Hurricane Florence 

Here is a scientific look at Hurricane Florence as it approaches the Carolinas. 

via GIPHY

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More Storms Coming 

While Florence is the primary focus along the east coast, there are more storms potentially on the way. 

A chart from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows that Hurricane Isaac and Hurricane Helene are out at sea.

While still a little ways away, Isaac is currently carrying 70 mph winds and is moving west. 

Helen is carrying 110 mph winds and is moving northwest. 

 

PHOTO: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 

 
 

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