Short-time and Lay off – What is the Difference


I have been getting a number of queries as to what is the difference between a lay-off and Short-time hours.

A lay-off or a short-time hours situation arises when an employer decides that, due to a temporary downturn in business, it is necessary to reduce costs in the short-term, until business increases again.

Lay-off is when the services of an employee are not required because the employer is temporarily short of the type of work carried out by that employee. The period during which the employee is absent from work for this reason is regarded as a lay-off. The employer should give as much notice as is possible beforehand and clearly indicate that the lay-off and lack of work is temporary. Use the  RP9 form which  is available on-line.

Short-time is when an employee is regarded as being on short-time for any week in which he or she works less than one half of his or her normal working hours because the work he or she was employed to do has diminished. An employer ought to give such notice as is possible and clearly indicate to the employee that the short-time is temporary.  Again use the RP9 form.1

In both cases, the key element is that the employer expects this to be a short-term arrangement.

It is important to note that both of the above temporary solutions can only be implemented if this has been agreed with employees as part of the terms and conditions of employment within their contract of employment or the employees’ handbook. If this is not part of the employees’ terms and conditions of employment, the employer will have to agree with the employees that this is a measure that they are willing to engage in. It must also be clearly stated, in writing, that time spent on short time or lay off will not be paid.

This information is supplied by Right Hand HR.  and we would be happy to support you with further information on this process.