MIAMI– LAWFUEL – The Law Newswire –As the National Hurricane Cente…

MIAMI– LAWFUEL – The Law Newswire –As the National Hurricane Center is working diligently to monitor storm systems during this year’s hurricane season, the law firm of Hunton & Williams is advising its clients on effective business strategies to ensure their bottom lines weather any storm.

“At Hunton & Williams, we recognize that a quick return to ‘business as usual’ is largely dependent on the precautionary actions taken before a storm even forms,” said Hunton & Williams partner Terry Connor, co-head of the labor and employment practice in Miami.

Currently there is no specific legal framework in Florida concerning the duties of employers and employees during a natural disaster. Guidelines should be put in place that are employee-friendly which will maximize company productivity and be in compliance with Wage and Hour Laws, Employment Discrimination laws and the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), Connor added. In addition, compliance with collectively bargained procedures is critical to mitigating the disruption. Hunton & Williams suggests a few guidelines in establishing a hurricane preparation plan:

1. Clearly delineate evacuation procedures prior to the development of a particular storm system. Identify source documents and post them on electronic media where possible.

2. Employers must be attuned to federal/state/local public authorities and law enforcement for information and guidance and clearly advise their employees to do the same.

3. Assign someone to monitor the progress of the storm to keep key staff informed. Create a communication grid to spread crucial information quickly and efficiently to all staff.

4. Modify policies on employee attendance and pay policies. Be sure the payroll department is aware of its legal obligations and establish protocols for time recording in compliance with federal and state laws.

5. Prepare for possible extended office closures. Identify critical jobs and job functions that are necessary for business continuity. Then, train several employees with those essential skills. Develop a network for telecommuting and prepare clear instructions for a “working from home” procedure, if this possibility exists. Make sure to record hours worked as accurately as possible from the remote sites and arrange where possible for electronic deposit of payroll.

6. After the crisis, meet with employees and develop best practices for the next occurrence.

Editor’s Note: Hunton & Williams’ experienced labor and employment team will be available during the 2007 Hurricane Season to talk to your news outlet. To set up a time to speak to the attorneys or to get more information on labor issues, please call us at 305-261-6222 or toll free at 1-877-261-6222. The firm is also equipped with video conference capability.

About Hunton & Williams

Hunton & Williams LLP provides legal services to corporations, financial institutions, governments and individuals, as well as to a broad array of other entities. Since our establishment more than a century ago, Hunton & Williams has grown to more than 975 attorneys serving clients in 100 countries from 19 offices around the world. While our practice has a strong industry focus on energy, financial services and life sciences, the depth and breadth of our experience extends to more than 100 separate practice areas, including bankruptcy and creditors rights, commercial litigation, corporate transactions and securities law, intellectual property, international and government relations, regulatory law, products liability, and privacy and information management.

Note: Photos are available via e-mail.

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