Guidance for businesses affected by flooding

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28 Sep 2012

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The recent heavy rains and flooding in parts of the UK have created a lot of damage and disruption to many workplaces. As some businesses have been forced to close their premises while remedial work is carried out, employers have the additional stress of dealing with workforce issues. Croner’s HR experts offer some practical advice to employers facing closure of premises: 1) Keep in contact with employees so they are up-to-date with progress and the likelihood of returning to work. 2) Employers are liable to pay their employees during this period as they are unable to fulfill their basic contractual obligation to provide an employee with work. 3) Consider the following options as an alternative to reduce the impact of closure on the employees.

  • Work from an alternative office: If you have other premises in the local area, see if you can relocate employees to there until it is safe to return to their normal place of work. To require employees to do so, the employment contract would need to contain a mobility clause. If there is no such express clause, the employee may agree to the change to their work location in the short term.
  • Working from home: Consider whether employees are able to work from home.
  • Use Annual Leave: Employees who have annual leave remaining could be given the opportunity to take this leave during the period of closure. Employers may be able to force the employee to take annual leave, but this would require you to issue twice the notice as the time you require them to take, and in the circumstances there may not be adequate time to do this. You also need to ensure you are not acting in breach of employment contracts in doing this.
  • Short Term Working and Lay-off:  Where employers have an adequately worded contractual lay-off and short time working clause it is possible for them to lay off the employee for a week, or impose short time working if they are unable to provide at least 50% of their work in a given week.

Alternatively, without an express contractual clause the employer could seek to agree the lay-off or short time working with the employee. During a period of lay-off, for the first 5 days in which no work is available in a 13 week period, an employee will be entitled to be paid for any day they do not work at the rate of £23.50 per day, which is the statutory amount of guaranteed pay. Ideally this would be confirmed in writing to the employee with as much notice as possible and indication of how many workless days to expect. The period of lay-off should be reviewed regularly and should not last any longer than necessary.

By following this guidance, employers can ensure that employees are treated fairly during such disruptions, taking practical steps to avoid further potential detriment to the business. Croner provides practical, timely advice and support for employers across the UK. To find out more, call us on 0800 634 1700 or complete the Contact Us form.

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