In Labor and Employment, News & Updates

In the aftermath of natural disasters such as Hurricane Irma, local governments may be eligible to receive reimbursement for labor costs directly related to a natural disaster under the Public Assistance (PA) Program administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). In general, FEMA reimbursement of labor costs is available where the labor costs were necessary and reasonable to properly address the disaster. This is a multi-faceted analysis involving, among other items, FEMA’s review of local and national labor data, the specific circumstances of the employer at the time and employer documentation. In order to be eligible for reimbursement of labor costs, local governments must, at a minimum, have a written policy that was implemented prior to the natural disaster for which the employer seeks reimbursement of labor costs. Additionally, to be eligible for reimbursement, the employer’s policy should, at a minimum:

  • Apply uniformly to labor costs, whether they are eligible or ineligible for federal assistance (i.e., compensation cannot be contingent on receiving FEMA assistance);
  • Establish non-discretionary criteria for when compensation is paid (e.g., emergency compensation is activated upon a declared emergency and not subject to the discretionary authority of the chief executive); and
  • Identify the types of employees (e.g., permanent, temporary, essential, non-essential, budgeted, unbudgeted, exempt, non-exempt) governed by the policy, which will dictate whether reimbursement will be granted for straight time, overtime, premium pay and/or compensatory time. Overtime pay is generally eligible for reimbursement for all employees, while straight time and other types of pay will be dependent on the employees’ respective categories

If you have any questions about this or any other labor/employment issue, please feel free to reach out to Brett J. Schneider ( at (561) 835-2111 or Milton Collins ( at (954) 763-4242


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