As the ‘beast from the east’ leaves Ireland, businesses across the country are set to reopen. Here’s a few things business owners need be aware of.

As the Red Alert weather forecast has been withdrawn across parts of Ireland, the damage caused by Storm Emma remains, and the National Emergency Coordination Group (NECG) has warned that conditions will be “difficult” for the next few days.

With more than 25,000 homes and businesses without power, it could take several days, if not weeks to fully recover from the ‘beast from the east’, while at one stage more than 100,000 homes and businesses were affected.

However, as the storm begins to slowly pass, many employers will consider reopening tomorrow, and insurance will be at the forefront of their minds. It’s important to be familiar with the small print of your business insurance policy, but it’s even better to be sure that you’ve bought the right policy to begin with. Any decision taken to reopen must ensure that the safety an employee is not in danger. Employers have a general obligation to take all precautions reasonable in the circumstance for the protection of the worker.

Upon re-entering your property after the storm, the most important thing is to be careful as there could be damage to the walls, roof, etc. There’s no single policy to cover storm damage, but damage caused by storms is one of the risks that is generally covered by a number of business insurance policies.

According to employment law experts, an employer has no legal obligation to pay staff if they don’t come to work, even if they are physically unable to make the journey due to hazardous conditions, unless there’s a specific stipulation in an employee’s contract.

Even in very poor weather conditions, the onus is on employees to get to work – unless the employer has a contractual obligation to provide transport for employees to and from the place of work. It is also worth noting, employees travelling to work in dangerous conditions are not covered under the employer’s policy, so the only likely payment the employee will receive from their employer if there was an accident would be a gesture of good will.

It is important that people stay inside for the duration of Storm Emma and do not attempt to repair damage in these strong winds. Here are some things you can do once the storm passes Ireland:

  • Take pictures of the damage caused by the storm.
  • Notify your insurance company as soon as possible.
  • Secure your premises from the possibility of any further damage.
  • Remove wet or damaged contents, but do not dispose of them off-site.
  • Consider appointing a loss assessor to help you with your claim.

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