Q. Several employees at our manufacturing facility on the coast are volunteer firefighters and medics. What obligations do we have to those employees who have to miss work to respond to a hurricane or other emergencies?
A. Members of a volunteer fire department, rescue squad or emergency medical services agency who are called into service by the State of North Carolina after a proclamation of a state of disaster by the governor or the General Assembly, or upon activation of the State Emergency Response Team, have the right to take leave without pay from any private employment.
The applicable statute does not impose a limit on the length of such leave. Employers may not terminate employees for taking such leave. Also, employers may not require employees taking such leave to exhaust vacation or other accrued leave benefits.
Note, however, that this law does not apply to employees who have been certified by their employers to the director of the Division of Emergency , or to the head of a local emergency management agency, as essential to the employer’s own ongoing emergency or disaster relief activities.