Employers need to consider the legal implications of making changes to workers’ pay and managing their return to work following the riots to avoid disputes.
Law firm Eversheds said that employers will have to pay employees absent from work because of the riots, unless there is a specific clause in an employee’s contract that allows them to do otherwise. Such a clause will state that employees will lose a day’s pay if they cannot get into work because of reasons beyond their control or that the employee is paid according to actual units of work done.
Katharine Vickery, partner at Eversheds, said: “Employees have statutory protection against an unauthorised deduction being made from their wages: if the employer has no contractual right to deduct pay and the employee does not consent, deducting pay could potentially be subject to legal challenge.”
A business may ask employees to take a non-working day as part of their holiday entitlement, although it is unable to force them to do so without giving sufficient notice, unless their employment contract contains an express right for the employer to direct when holiday is taken. Employers may also ask employees to make up lost hours on other days.
A potential liability may arise if employers pressurise employees to travel into work when it is dangerous for them to do so, or if the workplace itself exposes them to risk or injury.
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