Lay-offs are a temporary measure, whereby an employer provides employees with no work (and therefore, no pay) for a period while still retaining them as employees. Lay-offs tend to be used as a temporary solution to a problem such as shortage of work, or in this case, the impact of a pandemic.
Short-term working, on the other hand, means providing employees with less work and therefore, lower pay for a period, while also still retaining them as employees. Like a lay-off, short-term working is a short-term measure often designed to deal with a shortfall of work.
There are a number of difficulties with lay-offs and short-term working, including:
- the need for express contractual provisions. In the absence of such provisions in an employee’s Employment contract, employees may claim constructive dismissal
- potential claims for statutory redundancy pay by employees. Even if an employer has the contractual right to lay-off employees or introduce short-term working, employees may still be able to claim statutory redundancy pay where:
- they have more than 2 years' service, and
- have been laid off or kept on short-term working for more than 4 weeks in a row/more than 6 non-consecutive weeks in a 13 week period
For more information, read Lay-offs and short time working.