Retailers and other businesses should be drawing up plans now on what they would do if they were hit by civil disturbances or riots.
Bibby Consulting and Support have reported that it had a number of clients in the London area that had to close because of the riots. These businesses have now urgently sought advice from the Newcastle-under-Lyme company on what to do should something similar happen again. Companies should apply common sense to any contingency plans they make, Bibby CAS said, because the conventional approach won’t necessarily work in an unpredictable environment such as premises being attacked or looted. At all times, companies should always remember that staff safety is of paramount importance.
“Our official advice to companies would always be to plan ahead, think what you would do if the unthinkable happens, just as they do with fire safety,” said Michael Slade, Bibby CAS’s Managing Director. “In many cases, during the current disturbances, businesses closed completely either through their own risk management strategies or on advice from law enforcement. Whilst the obvious cost of this would be loss of business there could also be avoidable staffing cost, if you have the correct contractual provisions in place. As such, having robustly worded contracts of employment covering areas such as lay off and short time working could assist businesses in limiting staffing costs should an unforeseeable situation arise impacting opening and closing times.”
Slade added: “But no matter how much you plan, the fluid and frightening nature of a riot can catch anybody off guard so that’s where a manager well trained in tackling a crisis can be crucial. And if necessary, the manager needs to be confident enough to abandon any agreed strategy and take matters into their own hands for the safety of everyone concerned.” If the event is pre-planned – such as a demonstration that has the potential of getting out of control – then a business should think seriously about negotiating with its staff to take time off as part of their holiday allocation, Slade said. And bear in mind that for every day a company wants to enforce a staff holiday, they would need to give them two days’ notice. “In such cases it’s important to have the co-operation of staff and forward-thinking companies will have a negotiated clause within their employment contract,” Slade said. “If they haven’t, they could be forced to lay off staff on full pay, something they can ill afford to do in today’s uncertain economic climate.”