Temporary lay-off and short-time working

From time to time employers may experience a temporary shortage of work and it may be necessary to lay-off all or some of their employees in order to preserve long term employment security.  If temporary lay-off is being considered there are important aspects of employment and contract law to take into account.

The right to lay-off employees without pay depends on the contractual position, i.e. whether it is permitted by the contract of employment. Where it is imposed by an employer without a contractual right to do so, employees could pursue claims to the civil court and/or to an Industrial Tribunal.

The Employment Rights (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 provides for employees to be paid a guarantee payment if they are on a period of lay-off or short-time working. Further provisions establish a procedure whereby employees who are laid off can, in certain circumstances, claim a redundancy payment.

This information note provides some general information on the right to place employees on temporary lay-off/short time working and the rights of employees who are temporarily laid-off.

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Last updated: 25 January 2024