It can be quite common that during a bad patch an employer, rather than make redundancies, may choose to make other changes to an employee’s Employment contract including lay-offs and short-time working.

Two options your employer may consider are Lay-offs and Short-time working – and we look at what this means in our article here.


When an Employer does not have enough business to enable them to employ all or part of their work-force for a temporary period. An employee is laid-off if they do not work for a week and get no pay for that week. The employer may describe this as unpaid holiday rather than a lay-off (although it is still a lay-off).

Short-time working.

This is when your hours of work are reduced (by reducing the number of days or shifts per week you work, or the hours per day you work) by more than 50%, and your pay is reduced accordingly, because there is not enough work to operate normal working hours.

This can also apply if your if your employer’s business premises is temporarily closed (e.g. due to flooding, fire, power supply failure).

Guarantee Payments

  • These payments can be received for a maximum of five days in a three month period (if the lay-off days don’t follow on immediately from each other, the three month period is calculated separately for each day of lay-off)
  • Guarantee payments are currently up to £29.00 per day (since 6th April 2019) increasing to £30 from 6th April 2020
  • On days when a guaranteed payment isn’t payable, it may be possible to claim JobSeekers Allowance
  • You should usually be able to do other work for another employer if you’re laid-off or on short-time working (unless you contract prohibits this), but this shouldn’t be for a competitor of your employer
  • If you want to do other work you should let your employer know and get their agreement to this. You should make sure that you can return to your normal job as soon as your employer is able to offer you work again. If you don’t do this your employer may argue you’ve resigned by taking up other work
  • If your employer fails to pay a guarantee payment you can make a claim to an Employment Tribunal within three months
  • You can’t be dismissed or selected for redundancy for challenging an employer’s refusal or failure to pay a guarantee payment or for taking a claim about this to an Employment Tribunal.

Guarantee payments are not made where:

  • You have less than one months service
  • The lay-off is as a result of industrial action
  • The employer offers you suitable alternative employment (i.e. other work) for the day in question and you refuse this
  • You refuse a reasonable request to remain on standby during the lay-off period.