Natural disasters, FMLA and the FLSA

Employers in Indiana cannot stop following regulations around the Family and Medical Leave Act or the Fair Labor Standards Act when a natural disaster occurs. When businesses do disaster planning, it is best to make contingency plans with these regulations in mind.

An employee cannot volunteer to work extra hours for an employer in a natural disaster. In general, an employee is owed overtime for all hours worked during a natural disaster. One issue employers must consider is what they will do if an employee is unable to use timekeeping systems or if timekeeping records are destroyed since the FLSA has certain requirements for record keeping.

If a business has to close because of a natural disaster, an employee on FMLA leave cannot be docked for the hours the business is closed. A natural disaster is usually not a reason for an employer to grant FMLA leave to an employee. However, an employee or family member's medical condition might worsen as a result of a natural disaster, and if this happens, FMLA leave might be warranted.

A person who faces discrimination for taking family leave or who is denied FMLA leave may want to talk to an attorney. An employer might attempt to deny this leave after a natural disaster if the business is understaffed as a result of the disaster. However, this is not permitted. Discrimination may take the form of demotion, termination or the creation of a hostile environment in the workplace. According to the FMLA, a person who returns to the workplace after taking leave is supposed to return to the same position or its equivalent. An employer may try to argue that a position that offers less pay, less responsibility or less prestige is equal to a person's previous position.

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