Katrina Zone Employers Helping Workers with Pay, other Aid

October 11, 2005 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Many Employers whose workers have been displaced by Hurricane Katrina are promising to continue paying the staffers indefinitely, according to a new poll.

A news release from Mercer Human Resource Consulting said more than 70% of the firms in the Katrina zone say they would provide severance to employees if they are eventually laid off.

Ten of the 22 companies (46%) responding to the payroll question say out-of-work employees will stay on the payroll indefinitely. Eight firms (36%) say paychecks will go to their out-of-work employees for a specified amount of time, with a median period of four weeks.

According to the survey, 16 of 22 companies (73%) say they are providing special payments or assistance to staff members unable to do their jobs. Additional pay, donations, relief fund grants, and no-interest loans are the types of assistance organizations are offering.

“It’s a measure of both the companies’ realism and compassion that they are stepping up to care for their employees in the wake of the storm,” said Steven Gross, leader of Mercer’s Broad-based Rewards consulting business in the news release.

The survey found that employers are paying for a variety of living expenses for displaced staffers who are now working away from home. Just over half, for example, are paying for temporary living quarters and 41% are paying for food. Of the surveyed companies, 16 had dispatched employees, including many who traveled long distances to aid in their company’s recovery.

Other survey results included:

  • Nearly all (16 of 17 which answered the question) of the firms say they are providing temporary living quarters and food for their dispatched workers. Nearly that many (13 of 17) are providing airfare and other travel costs when an employee needs to go back home.
  • More than half (11 of 17) of the companies have employees who are now working in an office setting while slightly fewer (8 of 17) say they have employees who are telecommuting from a hotel.

The Hurricane Katrina: Special Pay Practices Survey by Mercer Human Resource Consulting reflects the practices of 31 large organizations in a variety of industries and with a collective workforce of more than three million. Nearly all (29) had employees affected by Katrina; on average, these employers had nearly 1,200 employees affected by the hurricane.