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Douglas Village Shopping Centre Fire: Information for employees and employers

The impact and gravity of the recent fire in Douglas Village Shopping Centre is now coming to light and management of the centre have confirmed that demolition of the areas of the structure affected by the fire must take place prior to reopening. Consequently, it appears that the centre may now be facing weeks of closure.

This unfortunately has major repercussions for the 50 or so businesses within the shopping centre and their staff. The biggest question for employers and employees alike will undoubtedly be that of pay and employees’ entitlements. In summary, the following scenarios/options may arise, depending on the particular facts and circumstances surrounding each employment relationship.

1. Some of the larger businesses may be able to redeploy staff to other nearby locations/stores and pay employees as normal.

2. Employees may be placed on temporary layoff if the employee’s contract or custom and practice in the business provides for this.

Generally, if employees are temporarily laid off then employers are not obliged to pay employees, however, the issue should be reviewed on a case by case basis and employers and employees alike should refer to their written contracts of employment and specific clauses which deal with temporary layoff and the relevant terms.

Employees who are placed on unpaid temporary layoff may be entitled to Jobseekers’ Benefit or Jobseekers’ Allowance from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection for the days they are not working and should make enquiries in this regard if relevant.

3. Employers and employees may agree a mutually acceptable arrangement such as, for example, employees taking annual leave for the duration, or part thereof, the closure of the shopping centre.

4. The employer may not be in a position to rely on or agree any of the above options and may simply have to pay the employees if they are available and willing to work as failure to do so may be deemed to be a breach of contract.

For further information, please contact the team at Martin A. Harvey & Co. Solicitors on 021 496 3400, email us at maharvey@martinharvey.ie or contact us via our website.