Unfortunately, many businesses may temporarily suspend operations and will experience a sharp fall in turnover. As a result, some employers will make reductions to staffing levels.

Some employees may have lay off provisions in their employment contracts permitting employers to ask them to take unpaid leave.

However, most employment contracts do not contain a contractual right for employers to lay off staff. Employers can seek to negotiate temporary changes to working arrangements with staff. These include:

  • periods of unpaid leave
  • reduced working hours
  • reductions in pay

Some employers may decide that they will need to make redundancies. If more than 20 employees are affected, special rules will apply.

Employers will need to tread carefully and understand their legal obligations.


If you require immediate assistance from our teams, please contact us by phone (contact us) or alternatively email your request for assistance by submitting this form.

Meet our specialist Covid-19 team

We have assembled a specialist team who have the experience and expertise to help with all the legal issues emerging out of the Covid-19 crisis, you can meet them here…

Kate Pollock, Partner, Co-Head of Competition Litigation, Stewarts

Employment expertise

We are a leading employment law team, highly ranked by The Legal 500.

We have an outstanding reputation in the financial and professional services sectors. Our partners are recognised for their cutting-edge work for senior executives and their “excellent knowledge of how the City works”.

Our lawyers have particular expertise advising on individual and team moves, whistleblowing, and discrimination claims. Where required, we are supported by experts in our Commercial Litigation team.

Our advice goes beyond legal analysis to address the wider practical, commercial and strategic issues, ensuring our clients achieve the best possible outcome.

We advise individuals and businesses on a full range of employment, partnership, LLP and shareholder issues.

If you require assistance, please contact us or request a call from one of our lawyers.