News & Events

How to Help Your Employees in the Wake of a Natural Disaster – HR Daily Advisor

HR Daily Advisor recently mentioned Butler Snow attorney Kara E. Shea in an article about how to help your employees in the wake of a natural disaster.

The following is an excerpt from the article:

Kara Shea, an attorney with Butler Snow LLP experienced a major flood in Nashville in 2010, and she shared information for employers then in an article in Tennessee Employment Law Letter. She reminds private-sector employers that they can’t permit nonexempt employees to “volunteer” time to perform services of any kind for the employer. “So any time your nonexempt employees spent on postflood cleanup of your premises must be recorded and paid,” she wrote.


However, public and not-for-profit employers can allow employees to volunteer their services to the employer, so long as they are doing it for “civic, charitable or humanitarian reasons,” Shea wrote. That exception applies only if the work is uncoerced, performed outside regularly scheduled business hours, and different from the work regularly performed by the employee.


“For instance, an administrative assistant at a public or private not-for-profit school can volunteer to help rebuild a flooded school playground on the weekend; however, school groundskeeping or maintenance personnel must be paid at least minimum wage for that kind of work because it’s similar to their regular job duties,” Shea wrote.


Many times private employers, as well as public and not-for-profit employers, want to organize employees, including nonexempt employees, to aid disaster victims either independently or through a church or civic/service organization. In such a case, Shea wrote, the employer needs to make sure the three factors for true volunteer status are met: (1) You do not require or coerce the employee to do the work, (2) the work is performed outside the employee’s regularly scheduled work hours, and (3) the work is not the same work the employee performs for you.

Read the article in its entirety here.