Employee questions on lay-offs and short-time working

When can I be laid off?

When there is an express contractual right agreed between you and your employer, an agreement covering the issue between the company and the union, or a national agreement for the industry that your employer follows. Such agreements only have contractual force if they are incorporated into your employment contract. Your employer might also have an implied right if they can show by clear evidence that this right has been established over a long period by custom or practice.

Do I have any right to payment while laid off?

Not if there is a specific term in your contract allowing your employer to lay you off without pay. When you are laid off, you might be entitled to a statutory guarantee payment from your employer, limited to a maximum of five days in any period of three months. The daily amount is subject to an upper limit which is reviewed annually. On days when a guarantee payment isn't payable, you might be able to claim Jobseekers Allowance and should contact your local Jobcentre office about eligibility.

How long can a lay-off last?

This will depend on the terms specified in the contract. However, you may in certain circumstances give your employer written notice of your intention to claim a redundancy payment.

When can I be put on short-time working?

Your employer must have an express or implied power to lawfully reduce your pay. Normally you and your colleagues, or your union representative should have agreed to short-time working as an alternative to redundancies. If you're placed on short-time working you might be able to claim Jobseekers Allowance for the balance of the hours you don't work - you can get advice on this from your local Jobcentre Plus.

Can I claim redundancy payments because of lay-offs or short-time working?

If you're either laid off (receives no wages) or put on short-time working (receives less than half a week's pay) for four consecutive weeks (or for six non-consecutive weeks within a 13-week period) because of a shortage of work, you can give your employer written notice that you intend to claim a redundancy payment.