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November, 2017

How To Pay Your Employees During An Emergency

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How To Pay Your Employees During An Emergency

Sometimes bad things happen - take Hurricane Harvey, for example. Harvey devastated the Texas and Louisiana coastlines in late August 2017, causing over $198 billion in damages. Even though the people who lived in Harvey’s wake had a few days warning, nothing can prepare a person to take on such a heavy financial burden, including impacted businesses. During a scary and unpredictable time, the security of a paycheck can help get people through the uncertainty. How do you as an employer ensure your employees are getting paid in an emergency? We’ve got a few ideas that we think will help.

Go Paperless

Just because an emergency occurs doesn’t mean your employees cannot get paid - if you’re using the right payroll provider, that is. Today’s most payroll providers are all cloud-based, meaning you can pay your employees anytime, anywhere. Using a 100% paperless payroll process ensure your employees are paid regardless of the extenuating circumstances. With paperless payroll, you can quickly pay your employees through either direct deposit or paycards, which means your employees are paid on time, every time. The important thing is for you to have the ability to access your payroll from anywhere at any time because there’s no telling what sort of situation you or your employees may be put in during an emergency.

Protect Your Data

This is something that needs to be done before an emergency strikes. With cloud technology taking the forefront in payroll processing, this is a conversation to have with your payroll provider. Ask them what type of security features their data centers have, if they use backup generators, and where the data centers are located. Data centers should use redundant power for minimal disruption in the event of a natural disaster.

Preparedness Plan

Payroll Pointer: Have A Preparedness Plan

When it comes to payroll, you also need a preparedness plan in place. If you have a payroll provider, work with them to understand what they will do in the event of an emergency.

Have A Plan

You cannot control when an emergency will happen, but you can control how you will react in the aftermath. Having a proactive plan will give you and your employees a sense of stability, and will set an expectation of what will happen post-emergency. Be sure to have answers to common questions ahead of time like How will I get my paycheck and Will I get paid time off for the crisis before an emergency will be a help not only to your employees but your payroll department as well. Other ways to plan ahead are:

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Be prepared for various emergencies, including natural, cyber, and local.
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Provide extensive training for employees, so they are aware and knowledgeable of what will happen in the event of an emergency.
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Conduct regular tests of the current plan in place to be sure the plan is effective. Use the results to identify weakness and make improvements to the strategy.

Compensation Regulations To Keep In Mind

Do your employees receive direct deposit or paper checks for their paychecks? Are they exempt or nonexempt? If you employ volunteers or run an organization that pays its employees to work during an emergency situation, are you prepared to turn in their OSHA paperwork should they be injured on the job? There are significant legal issues and policies to take into consideration when trying to issue paychecks during an emergency. If you have emergency personnel working for your company, let them know how the pay period will work, what overtime to expect, etc.

FLSA Regulation Updates

Payroll Pointer: Stay Up-to-Date On FLSA Regulations

Keep FLSA regulations in mind for time payable to employees during emergencies and natural disasters. If you have employees who are nonexempt, exempt, on-call, or volunteers that have to work during an emergency, make sure your payroll provider can document and account for compensable time worked.  
Trying to keep up with compliance details in the middle of an emergency can be a bit of a challenge, and you want to make sure your employees are being paid accurately. Talk with your account manager to see if your payroll provider stays up to date on all government regulations. Document hubs and reporting features can be a huge help in ensuring that your business doesn’t take any unnecessary hits financially by avoiding federal fines.

One Last Thing

We cannot stress this enough - taking preventive measures can be your business’s saving grace in the event of an emergency. Making sure your employees are paid can help them to afford the resources they’ll need, and taking care of your employees should always be a top priority for your company during an emergency. If your company should ever face an emergency, communication will be key:

Employee Communication

Make sure that all information is communicated to everyone at once and any information sent out is from the same source.

APS Icon Sheet_Check Mark

Focus on the positives of the situation, not the negatives; also be sure to have various methods of sending information to employees, since computers and Internet may not be available at the time of the crisis.

APS Icon Sheet_Check Mark

Communicate with your payroll provider to understand exactly what the process will be to pay your employees. Let your employees know that you will be communicating with the provider, and will keep them up to date as you receive information.

If an employer prepares for an emergency ahead of time and stays knowledgeable of what employees should or should not be compensated for, they can stay in business once an emergency is over. Keep lines of communication open if an emergency should occur, and ensure your employees are knowledgeable on the disaster preparedness procedures by conducting drills and tests of the plan. Paying your employees during an emergency should not be a problem as long as you have your plan prepped and ready to go.

How APS can help

APS helps organizations of all sizes and industries with their payroll processing and tax compliance needs. With a unified platform and a team of tax compliance experts in your corner, we can help make payroll and tax errors a thing of the past.

Looking to make a mid-year switch to a new payroll provider? It’s easier than you think and APS can help you along every step of the way to ensure a successful transition. For the past four years, we have ranked as a High Performer, Best Customer Support, Ease of Use, Functionality, and Product Quality by G2 Crowd. We have also been ranked the #1 software company in Louisiana, a testament to the confidence our clients have in our work.

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