We are an electrical installation contractor with 40-odd hourly-paid site employees. During a quiet period through Autumn and Winter, the MD decided to effectively ‘lay off’ some employees for up to 2 months with pay at normal holiday rates – the company was fortunately in a position to do this at this time. No written commitment was ever made to do this, and payroll, for reasons unknown, identified it on payslips as ‘holiday absence’. Around 15 people were affected, and everyone is now back at work as normal.
My concern is whether this may have set a dangerous precedent; if we need to lay people off in future when resources don’t facilitate paying them, could they claim that this well-intentioned generous provision constitutes a new employment condition which must be upheld?
Could we even have people claiming next year that their holiday entitlement has increased by 7 or 8 weeks?
Jon Kirk

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