My employer wants to introduce a new lay-off clause to my contract, do I have to agree?

Last updated: 11 May 2020

In theory, any change to an individual’s contract of employment should be agreed by both the employer and the employee. However, the legal remedies if an individual refuses to accept a variation of contract to include a new lay-off term or short-time working clause can be fairly limited.

If the employer is insistent that they want to introduce the new term, they could dismiss individuals and offer re-engagement on the new terms, or they may even dismiss without offering new employment.

Taking this kind of action could leave the employer open to unfair dismissal claims, but of course this is not going to be much comfort if the employee is out of work. Furthermore, in the current climate, finding alternative employment is likely to be difficult and so rejecting the provision and risking dismissal is a high risk to take.

In areas where Prospect is recognised, members will be in a much stronger position by challenging the introduction of such provisions collectively.

If your employer is seeking to introduce a lay-off clause into your employment contract, seek advice from Prospect right away.

This page is designed to give general information about members’ rights on returning to work. It does not cover all circumstances and should not be treated as a definitive answer. Members should contact Prospect either through the Member Contact Centre on 0300 600 1878 or contact their union rep or full-time officer for specific advice.