Riots: employment issues arising from disruption
Many parts of London and other areas of the UK have been affected by rioting and looting this week. XpertHR provides guidance for employers on dealing with disruption to the workplace caused by disturbances to public transport, damage to business premises, and employee involvement in the rioting.
- Government guidance for businesses affected by civil unrest Read the Government's advice for businesses in the affected areas on the Business Link website.
Disruption to public transport: The riots have caused disruption to public transport and road closures. If employees have been unable to get to work due to transport problems, or arrive late, employers may be considering whether or not they can deduct employees' pay or instigate their disciplinary procedure.
Before doing so, it is good practice for an employer to investigate the reason behind the employee's absence or late arrival. If the reason is genuinely because of transport difficulties, the employer could consider allowing the employee to make up the time at a later date, work from home, or use his or her annual leave.
- How to deal with employment issues caused by severe weather or disruptions to public transport Employers may not be able to control public transport, but there are some steps that they can take to deal with issues arising from problems with the transport system.
- The XpertHR FAQs section answers questions on disruptions to public transport, including Is an employer required to pay employees who arrive late or do not arrive at all due to disruptions to public transport?
Damage to business premises: Fire and theft during the rioting have caused damage to business premises and goods. If, as a result, a business cannot operate as normal, it may be permissible to ask employees to carry out duties that they do not usually perform, for example cleaning. Whether or not the employer can do this will depend on the employment contract.
However, it is not permissible to impose unreasonable requirements on employees, as they may be entitled to resign and claim constructive dismissal. If there are risks to employees' health and safety, the employer should undertake a risk assessment and put appropriate measures in place to protect their health and safety, for example shutting the workplace early. If there is a genuine fear for health and safety, employees may be entitled to refuse to work.
If the workplace is shut, the employer may need to send employees home, but they may still need to be paid, or the employer could ask them if they would consider taking annual leave.
- Common contract terms The XpertHR employment law manual guides employers through the law on contractual terms that give a description of the work or a job title.
- Risk assessment form Use this model form to record risk assessments.
- The XpertHR FAQs section answers questions on business closure, including:
Disruption to childcare: If an employee's children cannot attend nursery or summer activities due to disruption caused by the rioting, the employer should bear in mind that the employee is entitled to a reasonable amount of time off to arrange care for his or her children. An employee may ask to take annual leave instead, and the employer should consider allowing the request even if the employee does not meet the notice requirements. If the employer refuses the request but the employee still takes annual leave, the employer should look at all the circumstances before taking formal disciplinary action.
- Time off for dependants quick reference Under s.57A of the Employment Rights Act 1996, employees are entitled to take a reasonable amount of unpaid time off for dependants. This quick reference sets out the circumstances in which the right applies.
- Time off for dependants policy This model policy sets out employees' right to time off for dependants.
Employee misconduct: If an employee has been involved in the riots, or is being investigated for his or her involvement in the riots, the employer may be able to discipline the employee, depending on the connection of his or her conduct to the employee's work.
- Policy on employees charged with or convicted of criminal offences and convictions This model policy sets out how to manage employees charged with or convicted of criminal offences and convictions.
- The XpertHR FAQs section answers questions on criminal activity outside the workplace, including Is it permissible to dismiss an employee on the grounds of misconduct that occurred outside the workplace?
Line manager briefing on homeworking Line managers might permit employees to work from home when there are major disruptions to public transport. This article looks at how line managers can best address the practical issues associated with homeworking.
Severe weather and disruptions to public transport policy This model policy sets out how employers should manage employees who face difficulties attending their place of work and returning home when there are disruptions to transport.
Employee can be automatically unfairly dismissed over safety concerns even when employer genuinely disagrees The Employment Appeal Tribunal has held that an employee who was dismissed for refusing to work because of health and safety concerns, even though his employer genuinely believed that there was no danger, could be automatically unfairly dismissed.
Contract clause on flexibility of job duties Use this model contract clause when drafting an employee's contract or employment particulars to give flexibility to require an employee to perform duties not specified in his or her job description or any other document.