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Craig v Bob Lindfield & Son Ltd UKEAT/0220/15; (2016) EMPLR 008
20 November 2015
Employment Appeal Tribunal
Where the contract of employment entitles the employer to lay employees off without pay, there is no implied requirement that the period of lay-off must be reasonable. C’s employment contract allowed the employer to lay him off or put him on short-time working for an indefinite period without pay. After four weeks’ lay-off without pay, he resigned and claimed he had been constructively dismissed because the lay-off period was longer than was reasonable.
The tribunal rejected his claim, saying there was no implied requirement that the period of lay off had to be reasonable; and anyway, the period was reasonable. The EAT upheld the decision, pointing out that employees have a right to claim a redundancy payment after four weeks of lay-off or short-time working. That right left no room for implying a further contractual term that the lay-off period had to be reasonable.
However, the EAT left open the possibility of a constructive dismissal claim based on the implied duty of trust and confidence, for example where there is no proper reason for the lay-off. The judge gave the example of an employer laying off their employees and replacing them with people who are prepared to work for less money.