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Disaster Prep and First Response

When Natural Disasters Strike, How Do Employees Get Paid?

When Hurricanes Harvey and Irma devastated the Southern United States in the summer of 2017, workplaces closed for days, and even weeks, due to the damage.

Both events significantly hampered the local economies. Compared to calendar weeks of the previous year, post-storm spending plummeted 59 percent in the Houston area and 55.7 percent across the state of Florida, according to First Data’s SpendTrend report. And while workplaces reopened shortly after, many employees still couldn’t return to work due to damaged vehicles, closed roadways or because their neighborhoods were evacuated.

Pay delay​​​​​​​

Given low workplace accessibility, it’s no surprise that employers experienced significant difficulties in paying their employees. Even for employees with direct deposit, it took the funds days to clear. But with more than three-quarters of Americans living paycheck-to-paycheck, according to a 2017 study by CareerBuilder, it was essential that people receive their wages on time — especially in a crisis.

During this critical post-disaster period, prepaid payroll cards were actually the fastest and most convenient solution for employees. The core function of prepaid card programs that differentiates them from other payment types is the ability to issue funds instantly — something even direct deposit can’t do.

A sound solution

Prepaid payroll cards help companies plan ahead for natural disasters and ensure employees still receive paychecks, regardless of what Mother Nature brings. Implementing a prepaid card program before disaster strikes can benefit businesses and their employees alike, especially with hurricane season in full swing, wildfires ravaging the American West and snowstorms coming sooner than we think.

For example, prior to Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, several businesses wanted to provide their employees with emergency funds to help them through difficult times. With proper forethought, some businesses proactively enrolled individuals in prepaid card programs so they could get funds once the storm struck.

The ability to issue funds immediately to employees helps affected employees pay for food, housing and other essentials so they can feel supported and prepared for a return to work — while also building workforce morale.

Prepaid cards should be seriously considered by any company looking to bolster their disaster preparedness plans. Ensuring timely payroll delivery is essential to protect a business’ most valuable asset — its employees.

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