Lay Off and Short Time Working

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An employer can ask an employee to stay at home or take unpaid leave if there’s not enough work to do.

A lay-off is occurs when the employees is sent home for at least 1 working day. Short-time working is when the employees hours are cut.

How long can an employee be laid off?

There’s no limit for how long an employee can be laid off or put on short-time. Employees can apply for redundancy and claim redundancy pay if it’s been:

  • 4 weeks in a row
  • 6 weeks in a 13-week period

Lay-off pay entitlement and short-time working payments

Employees should get their full pay unless the contract allows unpaid or reduced pay lay-offs.

If an employee is unpaid, they’re normally entitled to guarantee pay.


Guarantee Pay – Rate and length of statutory lay-off pay

Employees are entitled to guarantee pay during lay off or short-time working. The maximum they can get is £26.00 a day for 5 days in any 3-month period – so a maximum of £130.

If the employee usually earn less than £26.00 a day they’ll get their normal daily rate.

If the employee works part-time, their entitlement is worked out proportionally.

Employees can’t claim guarantee pay for any day that they do some work.

Eligibility for statutory lay-off pay

Employees must:

  • have been employed continuously for 1 month (includes part-time workers)
  • reasonably make sure they’re available for work
  • not refuse any reasonable alternative work (including work not in their contract)
  • not have been laid off because of industrial action

Applying for redundancy

Employees can apply for redundancy and claim redundancy pay if they’ve been laid off without pay or put on short-time and receive less than half a week’s pay for:

  • 4 or more weeks in a row
  • 6 or more weeks in a 13-week period

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