Temporary Lay Off & Short Time

As temporary lay off and reduced working hours has become the new normal working arrangement for many employers due to Covid 19, this short article deals with some of the practical issues regarding accrual of leave and selection of employees for lay-off or reduced working hours.

Do I Accrue Annual Leave On Lay Off/Reduced Hours?

Annual leave accrues on hours actually worked, at the relevant rate according to work pattern. Therefore, annual leave will continue to accrue for employees who are working reduced hours, but not for those who are laid off.

However, subject to the length of the lay-off period, full time employees who work a total of 1365 hours in the leave year will retain their full annual leave entitlement.

Annual Leave as per the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 is accrued as follows, according to actual working pattern:

  • 4 working weeks for full time employees; or
  • 1/3 of a working week per calendar month in which at least 117 hours are worked; or
  • 8% of hours worked (this normally applies to employees who work part time, or on a more casual basis)

Do I Get Paid For Public Holidays During Lay Off?

Public Holiday Benefit applies for the first 13 weeks of a lay off period only. Public Holiday benefit during a lay of period when the public holiday is not worked may be either:

  • A paid day off on the public holiday;
  • A paid day off within a month;
  • An extra day’s pay; or
  • An extra days’ leave.

Employers may decide which option to apply.

Can I Lay off Some Staff and Retain Others? How Do I Decide?

Yes, as parts of businesses may be impacted differently by Covid 19 or the business does not require a full lay off, employers may need to operate lay off/ reduced hours on a selective basis. What is important is that selection is driven by clear business needs, and that the selection of employees is not discriminatory in any manner. The nine grounds under which employees may not be discriminated against in respect of their terms and conditions of employment, as provided for in the Employment Equality Acts 1998 – 2015 are:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender
  • Civil Status
  • Family Status
  • Membership of the Travelling Community
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Ethnic Origin
  • Religious Belief

The same principles will apply when employers may need to bring employees back to work on a phased basis, and objective business needs must drive these decisions.

If you have any queries about dealing with the practical issues relating to managing employees during the Covid 19 crisis, please email Carmel Murphy at info@hrsolutions.ie or telephone (071) 9642748 or (086) 8337228.