Obligations as an Employer
· Some employees may find that their children’s schools are closed. In an emergency, employees must be allowed time off (unpaid unless their contract says otherwise) to care for their children and make alternative arrangements for childcare. The time this will take will vary according to individual circumstances and, in some cases, alternative arrangements may not be possible.
· If you have to temporarily close your premises and there is no work for employees, you may be able to temporarily ‘lay-off’ employees (but only if their employment contract says so). This is a temporary redundancy that may entitle you not to have to pay salaries/wages. However, staff may be entitled to a ‘guarantee payment’ (currently £18.40 per day for up to 5 days in any 3-month period).
· If your business has to close for a longer period or reduce output because of damage to premises, you may be forced to make permanent redundancies. Even in an unexpected emergency, employers must still follow the new statutory procedure made law in October 2005.
If employees become ill as a result of the explosion (e.g. from air pollution), they will be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay in the usual way and additional company sick pay if their contract says so. Those with asthma and other breathing problems are at most risk and, if required, it is within the law for the employer to make ‘reasonable’ adjustments to working conditions.
This information has kindly been supplied by Julie Gingell of SA Law.