Natural disasters like the kind we recently have witnessed in the flood-ravaged areas of the southern United States raise a host of issues for employers. Some wonder whether they are required to pay their employees during suspended operations; others are unsure whether and to what extent health benefits should be offered. But what about an employer's obligation to provide a leave of absence to employees during a natural disaster under laws such as the Family and Medical Leave Act? We cover below some of the more common FMLA-related issues employers face after natural disasters, such as a tornado, hurricane or flood, hit.
An Employee's Right to Take FMLA Leave after a Natural Disaster
The FMLA does not, in itself, require employers to give employees time off to attend to personal matters arising out of a natural disaster, such as cleaning a flood-damaged basement, salvaging belongings, or searching for missing relatives. (See our recent post where a court dismissed an employee's FMLA claim where the employee sought leave to clean up his mom's basement after a flood.) However, employers clearly have the right to voluntarily provide leave in these situations pursuant to their personnel policies.
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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.
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