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If your contract doesn't allow lay off or short-time working

This advice applies to England

If your contract doesn’t allow lay off or short-time working, it’s a breach of your contract.

You should tell your employer that they aren’t allowed to cut your hours or pay - if that doesn’t work, you should put your complaint in writing.  

If that still doesn’t work, you could

  • stay in the job but claim your unpaid wages through an employment tribunal

  • resign and claim your unpaid wages through an employment tribunal

It's a big decision to leave your job - but if your employer is struggling, it may be better to find a new job rather than hope you eventually get paid.  

If you've worked there more than 2 years, you can make a claim for the wages you're owed and your notice pay. You might also be able to claim for constructive unfair dismissal and redundancy pay.  

If you've worked there less than 2 years, you can make a claim for the wages you're owed and your notice pay.

These options involve taking your employer to an employment tribunal.

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice for advice straight away if you're considering going to tribunal.

Claiming benefits

You might be able to claim benefits while you look for a new job, like Universal Credit - check what benefits you can get.

If you get Universal Credit or Working Tax Credits already, you might be able to get a higher amount.

You should report any change that might affect your benefits quickly - you'll lose out if you delay.

Tax while you’re laid off or on short-time working

A drop in your income means you’ll pay less tax. You might even get a tax refund.

If you’re laid off and claim Jobseeker's Allowance, you can claim a tax refund at the end of the tax year.

If there’s a gap between you getting another job, you may get a tax refund through your wages from your new employer.

If you don’t claim benefits or you're not planning to work again that tax year, you can apply to HM Revenue and Customs for a tax refund 4 weeks after finishing work.

GOV.UK has more information on how to claim a tax refund.

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