Kate Brooks
Partner, Solicitor & Head of Employment/HR Services
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Date Published:11 Mar 2020 Last Updated:24 Oct 2021

Coronavirus (COVID-19): temporary lay off/short time working

Employment Law Advice

If your business suffers a sudden downturn in business due to COVID-19, can you temporarily lay off staff?

The answer is yes (subject to having an appropriate clause in the contract). This contract will be a “short time working” or “statutory lay off” clause. If you have this clause in your employment contracts, you can exercise it by simply notifying your employees.

During any short time working or statutory lay off, employees either remain employed but on shortened hours, or are temporarily laid off. This is a good alternative to a redundancy if you believe the down turn is only temporary.

Here’s some helpful guidance on lay-offs and short time working from Gov.uk.

During a period of statutory lay-off, employees will be entitled to be paid in accordance with their contract, if there is a contractual right to pay during lay off.

If there is no contractual right to pay during lay-off they will be entitled to a maximum of £29 per day for 5 days in any 3 month period, which is a maximum of £145. Employees must have been employed continuously for one month, be ready to work and not refuse alternative work.

If you have any questions on HR related matters, please email Kate Brooks or call 01202 057754.