What is the difference between a lay-off and a redundancy?

People often refer to being "laid off" to mean being made redundant. However, in legal terms there is a difference between a lay-off and a redundancy.

A lay-off is a period where the employer does not have sufficient work for the employee, and they are not paid as a result. An employer can only lay off an employee if it has the contractual right to do so, or if the employee agrees to the lay-off. It is not usual for employment contracts to include such a provision, outside of certain sectors. Employees may be prepared to accept a temporary period of lay-off as an alternative to redundancies, for example during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

A redundancy is a dismissal that is necessary because the business has closed down, or the employer needs fewer employees to carry out the work.