What are ‘lay-offs’?

What are ‘lay-offs’?


  • Date: Wednesday 18th March 2020
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We often hear this term being used but what actually happens when you ‘lay people off’ and is it lawful?

Contrary to popular belief, a period of lay-off is not the same as redundancy.

Redundancies are final – you have identified that a role needs to go, and the job holder is exiting employment.

Lay-off can be used to provide temporary relief for businesses that are suffering from a short-term shortage of work, for example during temporary shutdowns or periods of bad weather etc.

Employers can decide to enforce short-time working or lay-offs during those periods, as long as they are covered in the employee’s terms and conditions. If not, you can negotiate with staff and explain why these might be better options than redundancy. You can’t, however, enforce them.

You can lay people off for a period of four weeks consecutively or six weeks in a 13-week period. Following this period, the employee can ask to be made redundant.

Employees may be entitled to a ‘guarantee payment’. This is a statutory amount, which currently sits at £29 per day for five days within a three-month period.

Employees may also be entitled to other benefits and should contact their local job centre plus.

They can also work elsewhere and should contact temporary employment agencies or the job centre.

Source: Manuela Grossmann


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