Coronavirus: your questions answered

06 April 2020

Reducing employees' hours

Can I reduce the hours that employees work?

This depends on the terms of the contract. The more important question (see below) is likely to be whether an employer is able to reduce the pay of an employee who has been given fewer hours to work. Very few employees will actually have a contractual entitlement to work a full working week provided that the employer is prepared to pay them as normal. Where the employee’s reward package is dependent on commission or a bonus paid on output then there may be an argument that the employer is in breach of contract if they do not give the employee the chance to work a full week. In the circumstances of the current crisis however, there must be a strong argument that it would not have been possible to earn much commission anyway. If an employee is working reduced hours for either full or reduced pay, the employer will not be able to claim for their salary through the retention scheme.

What does a reduction in hours mean for pay?

A salaried employee whose hours are reduced will still be entitled to be paid in full unless he or she agrees otherwise – perhaps as an alternative to redundancy -


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