Consensus Employment Law

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Even the best run organisation may experience a temporary downturn in work or reduction in demand.  But can your employer lay you off or put you on to a shorter working week until such time as business picks up?

What is a lay-off?  This is where, on a temporary basis, employees are not provided with work.

When can your employer lay off employees?  As a rule, your employer cannot simply tell people not to turn up for work, but neither can they not pay you because work is not available.  However, your employer can lay off employees if there is an express clause in the contract of employment giving them this right.  They may also be able to lay off if they can show by custom and practice that it has been done in the past.  This is called an “implied term”.

But where there is no express or implied right to lay off, your employer may try to reach an agreement with you, giving them this right.  This may be appropriate where the only alternative is redundancy.

Are you entitled to be paid during a period of lay-off?  Not if there is a specific term in your contract saying you won’t get paid.  But you may be entitled to a statutory guarantee payment of up to 5 days in any 3 month period.   In addition, you may be able to claim Jobseekers Allowance for days when a guarantee payment is not payable and you should contact your local Job Centre about eligibility.

Short-time working is when employees are laid off for a number of hours each day or days each week.  There must be an express or implied term in your contract allowing your employer to reduce your pay, otherwise you may be able to bring a claim for constructive dismissal.
Contact us for more information on lay-off and short-time working.

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