We don’t have the right to lay-off, are there any other options available to us?
Practically speaking you could look at your workforce to ascertain whether there are any consultants, agency staff or other persons engaged otherwise than as direct employees. Terminating or reducing the scope of these agreements first is a good way to start to manage costs.
As you would do if the business was facing a redundancy situation, it is always open to you to discuss the issues with your employees with a view to reaching an agreed way forward which protects the business and employee’s jobs for the future but recognises that short-term variations will be necessary to keep everything running. Any agreement should be confirmed in writing and signed by all employees.
As an alternative to the contractual right to lay-off or place on short-time working, negotiating changes to pay and or working hours may be the best option to avoid redundancies. Many employees will prefer to accept a pay cut rather than lose their job.
It is also possible that temporary changes to the employment laws may provide more options in the coming weeks. Given the rapidly changing situation and the impact that COVID-19 is having on businesses, it has been announced that daily media updates are now to be given by the Prime Minister or other senior Ministers.