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How to implement a lay-off or short-time working

Author: Claire Birkinshaw


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  • Be aware that lay-offs and short-time working can be a useful way of handling temporary work shortages.
  • Understand that you have no right unilaterally to lay an employee off or to put them on short-time working, unless an express or implied term of the employment contract entitles you to do so.
  • Take into account that an employee who is wrongfully laid off or put on short-time working may resign and claim constructive dismissal, complain that an authorised deduction from wages has been made or sue for damages for breach of contract.
  • Be aware that where an employee is laid off or put on short-time working they may be entitled to statutory guarantee payments in respect of up to five workless days in any three-month period.
  • Appreciate that you may be liable to pay statutory redundancy payments to employees who comply with complex notice requirements having been laid off or kept on short-time working for specified periods of time.