Lay-offs and short-time working
If your employer does not have enough work for you it might consider laying you off with no work or reducing your working hours. Both of these options may help to avoid redundancies. Read on for more information about when an employer might do this and whether they have the right to do this.
When might an employer consider lay-off?
In the current climate, many businesses have seen a downturn in work. Your employer might therefore need fewer employees on a temporary basis. There may be a temporary closure of the workplace due to insufficient employees being able to work or the effect of government restrictions.
When might an employer consider short-time working?
If there is a downturn in work, for example due to the effect of COVD-19 on suppliers and customers, the business may not need all employees to work their contracted hours.
When can you be laid-off or put on short-time working?
You can only be laid-off or put on short-time working if:
- There is a clause providing for this in your contract of employment;
- There is custom and practice in your workplace of doing so;
- There is an agreement between your workplace and a trade union;
- There is a national agreement for your industry;
- You agree with your employer to change the terms of your contract of employment.
What if I am laid-off or put on short-time working but my employer does not have a contractual right to do this?
Your options are:
- Choose to accept the breach of contract and treat the contract as continuing, while claiming a statutory guarantee payment (see below);
- Seek compensation for breach of contract in the civil court or Employment Tribunal;
- Make a claim in the Employment Tribunal for unlawful deduction of wages;
- Claim that your employer’s action amounted to a dismissal, giving rise to potential claims for unfair dismissal and/or redundancy pay.
What are the alternatives to lay-off or short-time working?
Lay-off or short-time working may help avoid redundancies but your employer could consider other options first such as agreeing with you to take holiday or unpaid leave.
At the moment of course, employers have also been able to seek government financial support through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (although that is due to end shortly) and from 1 November 2020, the Job Support Scheme will be open (currently for a 6-month period). Under this scheme employers will continue to pay its employees for time worked, but the cost of hours not worked will be split between the employer, the Government and the employee (through a wage reduction). The Government will pay a third of hours not worked up to a cap, with the employer also contributing a third. For further information about the Job Support Scheme see https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/job-support-scheme.
As stated above, your employer may make use of the Job Retention Scheme or Job Support Scheme for as long as they are available. Otherwise, you are entitled to receive full pay during lay-off or short-time working unless your contract provides for no pay or reduced pay or you agree otherwise.
If you are laid-off or put on short-time working and you are eligible, you may be entitled to ‘statutory guarantee pay’ for days you do no work at all. You might also be eligible for Universal Credit or Jobseeker’s Allowance.
You can apply for redundancy and claim redundancy pay if you’re been laid-off or put on short-time working and receive less than half a week’s pay for 4 or more weeks in a row or 6 or more weeks in a 13-week period.
Can we help you?
If you have an employment law issue please contact one of our specialist employment law solicitors at LincsLaw on 01522 440512 or visit our website at https://lincslaw.co.uk/services/employees/resignation-dismissal-and-redundancy/redundancy/ for more details on how we can help you.
Specialist Employment Law Solicitor
LincsLaw Employment Solicitors