Lay Offs FAQs

What is lay off?

It is when employees are not provided with work by their employer, and the situation is regarded as temporary.

Is there a right to lay off employees?

There is a general right in common law to tell most employees not to turn up for work but there is no general right not to pay them because work is not available. In order for an employer to lay off their employees without paying them there needs to be an express contractual right  (click here for more on contracts of employment)  to do so, or an agreement between the company and a trade union, or a national agreement for the industry - if the latter two have been incorporated into the contract of employment. Alternatively, the right to lay off may be implied if it can be clearly shown that it has been an established practice over a long period of time.

What can employees do if they are laid off when there is no contractual right for the employer to do so?

In Jersey, the employee can either:

  • accept the breach of contract
  • sue for damages for breach of contract in a Civil Court or the Employment Tribunal
  • make a claim for unlawful deduction of wages to a Civil Court or the Employment Tribunal
  • claim that the employer's actions are such as to justify immediate resignation and seek compensation from the Employment Tribunal (see unfair dismissal)

Sept 2022

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