Temporary closures due to flooding can force redundancy

Businesses that have been forced to temporarily close because of flooding could face redundancy claims from staff, because of provisions under the Employment Rights Act 1996.

Solicitor Julian Yew, head of the hotel and leisure group at law firm Wedlake Bell, has warned that if an employee is laid off due to the temporary closure of a business with no pay, or is put on short-time working arrangements but receives less than half a week’s pay for four consecutive weeks, or for six weeks out of 13, then he or she can make a redundancy claim.

“The nature of the hotel and leisure business often means that staff are assigned on a rota basis. Because this is a more flexible approach than other businesses which are strictly nine-to-five [hours], this may lead employers to wrongly assume that they can simply ask staff to work fewer hours or lay them off temporarily,” he said.

However, employers could counteract any redundancy claim by offering work that will last for at least 13 weeks, within four weeks of the claim being received.

In order to avoid a claim, Yew advises employers to think about ways that their staff can be put to good use, such as sending them to other branches or on training courses.

He added that employers could even urge employees to take their paid annual leave during this difficult period.