Volcanic Disruption

Two of my staff are stuck overseas, where they were on vacation, held up by the ash drifts from the Iceland volcanic eruption that have shut down all the major airports over there.  They are probably going to eat up all their vacation and maybe some personal time if I let them, on the delay.

Does anyone out there have a policy, or had to implement something that covers the impact of such natural disasters on a) work travel or b) vacation travel?  On the one hand, they are pretty rare to impact any one company, but on the other hand we've had a few now over the last 10 years -- Haiti, New Orleans, China, Chile, etc., so I'm wondering if anyone out there has been impacted as a company and developed a response to help their employees, whether with paid time off, assistance while they are stuck there, etc.


  • 2 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • That they are away on personal time when this has happened is critical.  Personally, I think this is something you do not want to have a policy about.  Do you really want to put the company, by its own policy, on the hook for any expenses incurred by employees vacation preferences?  What would you do about employees who vacation in unhappy places and get kidnapped?  That's an un-natural disaster but why is that person less deserving of the company's assistance?  What if someone went mountain climbing and got injured in an avalanche?  That's a natural disaster.  Would you put them up while they convalesce in Timbuktu or pay their salary while they recover from the consequences of their dangerous behavior the same as the hapless delay victim of a volcanic eruption?  Is there another mechanism you could use like vacation donation or salary advance that is already in place?

    On the other hand, if you send people around the globe for business, you will want to have something in place.  Something about how the Company won't leave people stranded, which goes beyond compensating them for their time away.  It means supporting them logistically, if necessary, to find shelter, food, transportation.  Of course, if salaried employees do one iota of work while they're away, they're still entitled to full regular pay.  Even if they were absent and not working, I doubt being stranded during business travel would be considered "personal" business other than illness or injury, so salaried employees are probably owed pay even if they don't work.  I suspect an hourly person should be paid for their normally scheduled hours under the hourly travel pay rule.  If they're injured, it may invoke ADA, FMLA, workers' comp issues.

  • Thanks, TXHRGuy.  As usual, you've raised some important issues and given me some things to think about.  I agree with you on the personal time piece, we probably don't want to open that can  of works.  I have put off looking into any kind of donated time bank policy but I think that may be a next step for several reasons, including something like this.

    Sounds like a new post is in order!

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