Businesses that were damaged or closed in the riots nationwide this past week have been given leniency in terms of taxes and promises for insurance or coverage from the Riot Damages Act of 1886. However, some of these businesses may still have to pay money for the wages of staff.
The only staff who will have pay and work stopped due to the riots will be those with a “lay-off clause” in their contracts. Lawyers have said that employers will find it difficult to lay off employees that do not have this clause. Additionally, one lawyer suggested it might even be difficult for employees to fire the rioters.
Help for Businesses
Insurance companies have pledged to rebuild businesses and homes as quickly as possible. Those who have no insurance will be able to make claims under the Riot Damages Act in order to cover costs. Prime Minister David Cameron said that the government would fund the police in paying for these claims, and extended the deadline from 14 days to 42.
However, Peter Mooney, head of consultancy at the Employment Law Advisory Service Limited, suggested that employers might have to work around the temporary closures and still pay staff their wages. These employees would be entitled to work and pay—but Mr. Mooney offered the option of encouraging these employees to take any paid leave instead.
Rioters May Remain Employed
Andrew Brown, senior solicitor in Anderson Strathern LLP’s employment unit took this one step further and suggested that those who were involved in the riots might not be able to be fired by employers for misconduct as it took place outside the workplace and potentially would not affect the business’s reputation directly.
Though this could be argued on a case-by-case basis, depending on the involvement in the riots and the decisions of the courts, employers would have to be prepared that this may not be something they could claim. Businesses have so far been helped rather than hindered by the law, but unless the government makes specific provisions for this situation for everything, as it has begun to do for portions of the law, they will be up against a wall financially.