The challenges of the retail sector

If you employ people to work in your store, you’ll face regular HR challenges, including:

  • High staff turnover: Turnover is the rate at which employees leave your business and are replaced by new ones. In the retail sector, people often leave because of long hours and low pay, as well as a lack of full-time work, benefits and promotion opportunities.
  • A young workforce: Almost a third of retail employees are under 25 years old. On the one hand, a young workforce can be enthusiastic and motivated. But on the other, they can be easily distracted and don’t tend to stick around for long.
  • Diversity: A diverse workforce can help to increase the productivity and creativity of a business. But it can also lead to conflict and misunderstandings, so you need to find ways to promote a spirit of tolerance and teamwork.

It can be tough to stay on top of all these issues, while also working hard to improve your product and stay ahead of the competition.

That’s why we’re here to take your HR, employment law and health & safety worries off your hands. We already help 6,244 businesses in the retail sector to focus on what they do best.

Situations where Peninsula can help

Our clients in the retail industry call our 24/7, 365 helpline to get expert advice on HR, employment law and health & safety. We solve most cases in less than 24 hours.

Here are some of the issues we’ve helped resolve:

  • One of my workers has said he no longer wants to work Sundays. Does he have the right to turn down work?

    Shop workers have the right to opt out of working on Sundays, unless they’re contracted to only work on that day.

    He needs to give you a written, dated and signed notice saying he wants to opt-out. Once you get it, you can still ask him to come into work on Sundays for the next three months.

    After this period, he has the right to not work on Sundays anymore, and you mustn’t treat him less favourably because of this.

  • I’ve just employed a 16-year-old. Are there any special rules when it comes to working hours?

    Yes, these are some of the rules you need to follow when you employ young workers:

    • 16-year-olds can’t work more than eight hours a day or 40 hours a week.
    • They must also receive a daily rest period of 12 consecutive hours (the time between finishing work one day and starting again the next), and at least 48 hours of rest each week.
    • If your worker works a shift longer than 4.5 hours, you’ll need to give them at least a 30-minute rest break.

    Because they lack experience, you also need to make extra sure young workers aren’t exposed to health & safety risks. You also need to check if your liability insurance covers the employment of children and young people. Our experts can help guide you through the rules so you stay on the right side of the law.

  • After cashing up, I noticed there was less money in the till than I was expecting. Can I deduct this from my cashier’s wages?

    Yes, but only if there’s a clause in your contracts that allows you to do so.

    The most you can deduct from one gross wage payment is 10%. If your cashier’s till was down by more, you may need to take money out of next month’s wage too.

    You should write to the cashier and explain why you’re going to deduct this money from their wages, how much it adds up to, and how you’ll deduct it.

    Having trouble writing your employment contracts? Our experts can help you draft watertight contracts that are tailor-made for you.

  • Do I have to give holidays to staff on zero hours contracts?

    Although your staff are on zero hours contracts, the law may still classify them as workers—and maybe even employees. This means they should get 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday (equivalent to 12.07% of their working hours)—the same as staff on ‘normal’ contracts.

    Figuring out the employment status of your staff can be tricky, and you could end up in front of an employment tribunal if you get it wrong.

    But with our help, you’ll always give your staff what they deserve by law and avoid employment tribunals.

Court cases from the retail industry

Manager’s comment lands store in hot water

A Polish man who worked at a discount retail store in Liverpool asked his manager if he could change shifts so he could work with his daughter in the evenings.

The employee said they had to walk through an unsafe part of the city, and would prefer if they could go home together.

The manager denied the request, saying that the employee’s work suffered when he worked alongside his daughter. A heated discussion followed, during which the manager was offended that the employee had called his city unsafe.

He then told the employee that he and his daughter could “go back to Poland” if they didn’t like it.

After the company rejected a grievance he had raised, the employee made a claim of discrimination on the grounds of race.

The tribunal upheld his claim, stating that the manager wouldn’t have used those words if the employee were British. The judge ordered the store to start a diversity training programme.

Clothing store pays price for unfair dismissal

Over 13 years, a clothing store employee worked his way up to become general manager.

Despite his success, he suffered from depression and anxiety, which made it difficult for him to sleep and manage his mood.

He told the store that even though he was taking medication and receiving therapy, he had a short temper.

A few months later, the manager was involved in an incident with a customer. The customer tried to return a pair of trainers that he said were faulty. But because he’d worn them, the manager told him he wasn’t eligible for a refund.

The customer became aggressive and abusive, and starting filming the manager on his phone. The manager tried to snatch the phone from the customer, and dragged his body across the counter.

The store called the police, who arrested the customer.

A few weeks later, the customer complained to the store that the manager had assaulted him and tried to steal his phone. The store’s management only watched some of the CCTV footage, and although the manager had worked there for 13 years, dismissed him for gross misconduct.

The manager made a claim of unfair dismissal.

The tribunal upheld his claim. When they dismissed the manager, the store only looked at the incident, without taking into consideration the manager’s mental health and his length of service, the customer’s behaviour, and the fact that the store itself banned filming.

Suggested Resources