This is a term that is quite often confused with the definition of redundancy and it is important for employers to be aware that there is a distinct difference. Lay-off is a temporary measure whereby an employee is not provided with any work under their contract of employment, even though the employee is ready and available for work, and during that time the employee does not receive any pay. In addition, where the employee’s signed contract of employment or signed employee handbook contains a clearly drafted policy allowing the reduction of an employee’s hours in such circumstances then the employer will not require employee consent prior to the temporary reduction. However, where no such policy exists then the employer would require the employee’s express consent to the reduction.
As stated, this is a ‘temporary’ measure whereby there is a temporary shortage of work in the business and the employee will be expected to recommence work once their employer has sufficient work to do so. If it is envisaged that there is a ‘permanent’ downturn in work and the employer has no reasonable expectation of being able to provide work to the employee in future then redundancy should be considered as opposed to lay-off. An employee on lay-off may claim redundancy from their employer where they give notice in writing to their employer of this intention to claim and the claim is submitted within four weeks of:-
- the end of a continuous period of lay off of four or more weeks duration; or
- the end of a continuous period of thirteen weeks during which the employee has been on lay-off for an aggregate period of six weeks
An employer may be able to counter such an employee request for redundancy provided:
- such counter-notice is communicated to the employee within seven days of that employee’s notice request for redundancy; and
- that employer reasonably expects to be able to provide the employee with a period of thirteen weeks’ continuous employment during which the employee would not be laid off or kept on short time hours; and
- this thirteen week period of continuous employment must begin no later than four weeks from the date the employee served notice of their intention to claim redundancy.
An employee who claims and receives redundancy payment due to lay-off is considered to have voluntarily left their employment and therefore not entitled to notice under the minimum notice and terms of employment acts 1973 to 2001.