In conversation with an employment solicitor a couple of months ago he happened to mention that he had not included lay off or short time working clauses in employment contracts for the past decade because they had not been needed. This seems rather like saying that you don’t need car insurance until you have an accident.

There is no right to use lay off or short time working unless you have a clause in the contract to this effect. Whilst you still need to consult with staff, this clause gives you a tremendous advantage.