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Lay-offs and short-time working

Sarah McCarthy Editor's message: As a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, employers who find themselves experiencing a downturn in their business may ask employees to agree to being laid off or to reduce their hours (known as short-time working) as a way of avoiding redundancies.

An employee is laid off during a particular week if the employer does not have sufficient work for the employee and the employee is not paid as a result. Short-time working occurs when the employer does not have sufficient work and the employee works fewer days or hours than normal and receives less than half a normal week's pay.

However, employers have no statutory right to lay off an employee or to keep them on short-time working, so can only take this action if the employee agrees. In the current climate, an employee may be prepared to accept a period of lay-off or short-time working if they are aware that the alternative could be redundancy.

Sarah Byrne, HR practice editor

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HR and legal information and guidance relating to lay-offs and short-time working.