Lay-off periods. Reasonable?

The tribunal has found that there is no implied term of reasonableness in a contractual provision allowing employees to be laid off or put on short-time working for an indefinite period without pay. However…

It was decided that an employee who resigned after being laid off for around five weeks without pay had not been constructively unfairly dismissed. There had been a genuine downturn in work that had led to the employer operating the contractual lay-off clause, and the employer had legitimately followed the statutory scheme under which a redundancy payment does not have to be paid if there is a reasonable expectation that further work will become available within four weeks.

This case could provide a useful recourse where an employee is treated unreasonably by being kept on lay off or short-time working by the employer as a way of avoiding making a statutory redundancy payment. The EAT was at pains to point out that this was not such a case; there was no suggestion here that the employer had manipulated the lay-off or short-time working provisions for its own economic benefit, at the expense of its employees.

Craig v Bob Lindfield & Son Ltd UKEAT/0220/15

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