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Letter to Reduce Working Hours—Template

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01 October 2020

From time to time, your business may not have a set amount of work for your employees. If this is the case, you can look to reduce their hours.

This is particularly important during the coronavirus outbreak, where there may be a serious reduction in the amount of work you have.

As such, you can look to either using the government’s Job Retention Scheme and furlough employees. Or, you can reduce the number of hours they work—and that process will require a letter to reduce working hours.

So, how do you go about doing that? You can contact us for advice—01455 858 132. We provide quick answers to your questions.

You can also read our guide, which explains what you need to do if you’re looking to change a contract of employment. Here you’ll find a free download—a template that you can use as a sample letter.

The employment law for reducing hours

Under UK employment law, you can reduce an employee’s hours.

Although it depends on the type of contract they have, you can make these changes temporarily or permanently.

However, you do need the consent of your employees—a reduced hours announcement letter is a step towards getting that.

So, you must update them about any changes you plan. And this is where you should look to write to them, with a notification of a reduction in hours.

Do remember, your employees can also write a letter to you requesting a reduction in their working hours. This could be due to personal life issues. For example, if a family member is sick.

Of course, you must consider their request through a letter to reduce working hours in the UK carefully. But you’re under no legal obligation to agree to the request.

However, it’ll send your employee a positive message of support if you do—depending on their circumstances. So do consider the request before deciding.

What you need to do before the letter is issued

It’s essential to have on record the reason why you need to reduce their hours. And for the employee to agree to that reason.

Section four of the Employment Rights Act 1996 states:

“If, after the material date, there is a change in any of the matters particulars of which are required by sections 1 to 3 to be included or referred to in a statement under section 1, the employer shall give to [the worker] a written statement containing particulars of the change.”

This clarifies that you should take the following steps in this process:

  • You need to make your decision on the number of hours you intend to reduce an employee’s contract by.
  • Decide whether you can, contractually, do so.
  • Make the request to the employee.
  • Consult with them if they’re not happy with the change—try to come to an amicable agreement.
  • And, finally, once there’s an agreement you have to send out a reducing hours of work of employees letter explaining this to them.

It’s important to remember—you need a fair reason for reducing hours.

If you go about the process incorrectly, an employee may mistake the development as, for example, discrimination. And that could lead to an employment tribunal.

So, it’s important to provide clear and justifiable reasoning through the process. And you can use a reducing employee hours letter to keep essential details of the development on record.

If, for example, it’s a result of coronavirus related workload drops, then this is understandable. You just need to clarify that in your letter.

And when to send the letter? Write it within a month of the new hours coming into effect. This is UK law from 6th April 2020.

How to write letter of reduce hours to employees

In this section we have a reducing working hours letter template you can download—for free. Please click on the link below to gain access to it.

This is a sample letter to an employee reducing working hours. You should adapt it to suit your business requirements, which will be specific to each member of staff’s needs.

As an overview of the reduced letter of working hours, we’ll first cover a quick summary of what you require for this letter.

It’s straightforward to break down into bullet points. But it’s important to explain each and every point, providing clear details on the situation:

  • Indicate the employee is aware of the development and you have had a discussion about it.
  • Explain the reduction in hours—and when this will start.
  • Explain if this will have any result on their wage.
  • Indicate if it’s a permanent or temporary development.

For the sample letter to reduce hours at work, which provides the full details on what a standard hour reduction process, please download this template.

Expert advice

We’re here to help with any questions you have regarding reducing employee hours. Whether that’s due to coronavirus—or another matter. Call us now: 01455 858 132

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