Helping Employers Overcome The Key Challenges Of Reduced Working Hours

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HR Team director, Breda Cullen, says HR Team’s consultants are making a number of recommendations on how to mitigate risk when seeking to reduce hours for employees as a result of Covid-19. Employers have a number of options available to deal with these challenges, as businesses face operational reductions.

Lay-offs and short-time working

  • Temporary lay-off is an option when an employer is temporarily unable to provide an employee with the work for which they were employed.
  • Short-time working is also an option when operations have been reduced. Short-time working means an employee’s hours of work or pay are reduced to less than 50% of normal weekly working hours or normal weekly pay.
  • The legislation does not specify notice periods as to when employees should be notified regarding temporary lay-offs or short-time working. However, we would recommend giving as much notice as possible.
  • There must be an explicit and agreed contract clause with an employee to exercise the above.

Expert advice for reduced working hours

Do you require expert HR advice? Contact our team today.

Reduced hours of work

Many Employers are reducing hours of work via short-time working on a temporary basis. Some employers are also seeking to reduce hours on a permanent basis through consultation with employees. It is important to remember if an employer is seeking to permanently reduce an employee’s hours that this can only be done through consultation and with the employee’s agreement. It is very important to follow a process when implementing short-time working:

  • Speak to employees first.
  • Explain the changes you need to make.
  • Explain the reasons for the change.
  • Follow up in writing to the employee.
  • Consider other alternatives, such as redeployment.


In the first instance, unless you are sure that the role is permanently not needed, you can continue with a temporary lay-off or short-time working. This situation can be reviewed periodically in line with government announcements and the public health authorities.

There are two key requirements when considering redundancy. There must be a genuine redundancy rationale and a meaningful consultation process carried out prior to making the final decision.

The redundancy process for employers:

  • Put employees role ‘at risk’ of redundancy.
  • Consult with all employees who are affected.
  • If there are more individuals than jobs, and you plan on keeping some staff, conduct a selection process using objective-based criteria such as experience, qualifications and length of service.
  • Consider if you need to apply collective consultation.
  • Seek volunteers if appropriate.
  • Issue redundancy.
  • Provide opportunity to appeal.

If you require bespoke advice for any situation or employment law advice in general, please do not hessite to contact HR team and a member of the team will be happy to assist you: UK: +44 2871 271882 Ireland: +353 1 695 0749.

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