The regulations governing short time working are outdated and workers who are having their hours cut are not being properly supported.

That is according to campaigning trade union GMB, which has suggested that cutting back employee hours is not always an effective solution for saving the workforce.

Paul Maloney, senior organiser for GMB, explained that the union aims to work with employers to explore the options for keeping the largest percentage of people in work.

Commenting on the current economic situation and its effect on businesses, Mr Maloney said: "Some business models have been hit so hard that there is little or no choice, and the workforce themselves vote to work short time in order to keep their colleagues in work."

However, he added: "Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work and in many cases is followed by redundancies."

Many employers are opting to cut employee hours in an attempt to prevent redundancies and research by EEF, the industry body for engineering and manufacturing employers, revealed that a quarter of manufacturers have cut hours to keep costs low.