The extraordinary circumstances created by the Corona virus in March of last year continue to wreak havoc; as we enter Lockdown number three more pressure is applied and many employers are again in a situation where they need to consider options to remain viable, not just during but after Lockdown. Payroll is often the biggest cost in business; consequently to reduce headcount through Redundancy, Lay-off or Short-time is often the fastest and most effective way to reduce outgoings 

However, even in the current extreme circumstances employers should exercise care when selecting employees for Redundancy, Lay-off or Short-time. It remains important to comply with legislation and best practice; use objective criteria to select the employees and take care to avoid direct and indirect discrimination on any of the nine grounds prohibited under Employment Equality legislation. While any of the three options offer a possible temporary solution, each scenario is different. 

A “lay-off” scenario occurs when the employer is temporarily unable to provide the employee with the work for which they were employed to do. 

A “short-time” scenario occurs where an employer temporarily reduces the employee’s working hours or pay to less than 50% of normal weekly hours/pay. 


If the employment contract does not contain the right of the employer implement lay-off/short time, to do so may be contrary to legislation. However, if the employer consults with the employee(s) the option of lay-off/short-time can be agreed as a temporary alternative to redundancy



A situation arises where;

  • The employer has ceased, or intends to cease, the business for the purpose for which the employee(s) was employed or in the place where the employee(s) was employed.
  • Requirements of the business for the employee(s) to work of a particular kind has ceased or diminished. 
  • Employer decides to operate the business with fewer or no employees. 
  • Employer decides work being done is to be done in a different manner, for which the employee(s) is not trained or qualified to do.
  • Employer decides that the work being done is to be done by a person who is capable of doing other work for which the employee(s) is not sufficiently qualified or trained. 




While there is no stipulated notice period required and the current situation with the COVID-19 virus is likely to justify short notice; best practice would suggest that reasonable notice is provided to the employee(s). Other alternatives to consider are unpaid leave and/or annual leave. 

If you have questions or need advice in relation to these topics or any employment issue get in touch.