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Lay-off and Short-time Working

What is lay-off?

Lay-off is where your employer does not have enough work for you and tells you to stay at home as a temporary measure. If you are off work for at least one complete working day, this is a lay-off.

What is short-time working?

Short-time working is where your employer does not have enough work and cuts your hours or sends you home early as a temporary arrangement.

Can your employer do this?

Provided your employer pays you in full they can send you home on lay-off and short-time. Take advice from your Usdaw rep if it affects your earnings.

Can your employer do this and cut your pay?

  • Yes - if your contract says they can in the circumstances.
  • Yes - if you agree.
  • Yes - if there is a collective agreement with the Union to do so which is incorporated into (becomes part of) your contract.

In difficult times lay-off and/or short-time working may be the right thing to do to support the business and save jobs.

What is statutory guarantee pay?

Statutory guarantee pay is the minimum you should be paid when laid-off. To get statutory guarantee pay you must:

  • Have been employed continuously for at least one month - this includes part-time workers.
  • Reasonably make sure you are available for work.
  • Not refuse any reasonable alternative work, including work that is not in your contract.
  • Not have been laid-off because of industrial action.

Guarantee payments are made for a maximum of five days in any rolling period of three months. After that time you should get them for another five days. If you normally work fewer than five days a week, you are paid for the number of days in your normal working week.

You will receive your daily rate or the upper limit of 25 from April 2014, whichever is less.

On days on which a guarantee payment is not payable, you may be able to claim Jobseekers Allowance and should contact your local Jobcentre.

If you are placed on short-time working you may be able to claim Jobseekers Allowance for the balance of the hours you do not work - contact your Jobcentre for advice.

For more information on guarantee payments see the Government's website http://gov.uk/

Can I claim redundancy if I have been laid-off or put on short-time working?

If you are on short-time or laid-off you may be able to make a redundancy claim.

Notice of Intention to Claim (NIC) procedure

You can give your employer written notice of an intention to claim (NIC) a redundancy payment, if you are:

  • Laid-off without pay; or
  • Put on short-time working and receive less than half a week's pay.

And that lasts for:

  • Four consecutive weeks; or
  • Six weeks in a period of 13 weeks. This will depend on the terms specified in the contract.

This is a complex statutory procedure - more information can be found on the gov.uk website https://www.gov.uk/lay-offs...

Contact your Usdaw rep for advice about what to do in your workplace.

What is a wrongful lay-off/short-time?

1. Where there is no contract term or agreement

Consult your Usdaw rep - this is likely to be a breach of contract -  matters to consider:

Accept it and claim Guarantee Pay/Jobseekers Allowance

Submit a grievance letter to prevent affirmation

Unlawful deduction of wages claim

Resignation and constructive dismissal

2. Unreasonable or indefinite lay-off/short-time to avoid having to meet redundancy pay etc Consult your Usdaw rep to determine a collective strategy including NIC procedure
3. Where you are being singled out unfairly

Consult your Usdaw rep and consider the options:

Accept the situation and claim Guarantee Pay

Submit a grievance

Unlawful deduction of wages claim

Resignation and constructive dismissal


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