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In our article about Written Contracts and Statements we look at how an employer can make changes to your contracts of employment, but here we look at two other options your employer may consider, which are:
When an Employer does not have enough business to enable them to employ all or part of their work-force for a temporary period. An employee is laid-off if they do not work for a week and get no pay for that week. The employer may describe this as unpaid holiday rather than a lay-off (although it is still a lay-off).
This is when your hours of work are reduced (by reducing the number of days or shifts per week you work, or the hours per day you work) by more than 50%, and your pay is reduced accordingly, because there is not enough work to operate normal working hours.
This can also apply if your if your employer’s business premises is temporarily closed (e.g. due to flooding, fire, power supply failure).
There is a general right in common law to tell most employees not to turn up for work, but there is no general right to not pay employees because work is not available.
Lay-offs or short-time can be imposed on you only:
In 2016, the Employment Appeal Tribunal considered the case of Craig v Bob Lindfield & Son Ltd and whether there was a ‘reasonable’ amount of time a lay-off could continue. The employer had a contractual right to lay-off its staff and one employee resigned after 5 weeks of lay-off without pay, claiming he had been constructively dismissed as the period of the lay-off was unreasonable. He did not succeed as he could not show there was an implied term in his contract that the lay-off period had to be reasonable. Therefore there was no breach of contract and so it was not constructive dismissal. However, employers should be careful about keeping employees laid-off with no reasonable prospect of there being more work as this is likely to be a breach of contract as it could deny the employee a redundancy payment they are due (see below).
If none of these exist your employer should consult with you (or your Union representatives) about why this change is necessary, with a view to seeking your consent.
If your contract (or other circumstances above) does allow for lay-off or short-time working an employee may be entitled to:
If your contract does not allow for a lay-off or short-time working then an employee who has had no pay of any kind for a particular week, because they have not been provided with any work, or has been put on short-time working may be entitled to:
If, however, an employee agrees to a lay-off or short-time working then this could constitute a change in their contract of employment and they may be entitled to:
Guarantee payments are not made where:
If you are an Employer and need ongoing professional help with any staff/freelance issues then talk to Lesley at The HR Kiosk – a Human Resources Consultancy for small businesses – our fees are low to reflect the pressures on small businesses and you can hire us for as much time as you need.
Please note that the advice given on this website and by our Advisors is guidance only and cannot be taken as an accurate, up to date or authoritative interpretation of the law. It can also not be seen as specific advice for individual cases. Please also note that there are differences in legislation in Northern Ireland.
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