Thursday 14 May 2009

Redundancy: suitable alternative employment

These are only general guidelines and therefore recommend that anyone, in a redeployment situation, who is offered a new role should speak to their local representative prior to accepting that role.

Case law suggests that there are five major areas (covered below) considered in deciding whether a new job constitutes Suitable Alternative Employment. However, personal circumstances can play a part and the individual will judge whether they believe this new role is reasonable taking into account all their personal circumstances.

The main factors taken into account when assessing suitability and reasonableness are: -

Pay and Benefits: Any significant drop in earnings is likely to make a job being offered an unsuitable alternative. It is not only basic pay that counts but the whole employment package.

Status: The fact that an employee’s pay is preserved in a new job will not, on its own, be sufficient to make the job suitable. A drop in status may make a job unsuitable, even if earnings are maintained. A good example would be a manager being asked to do an administration role – clearly this would not be deemed as suitable.

Working Hours: A considerable change in shift patterns or working hours could be a relevant factor. For example, a member of staff who normally works day shifts/hours may have difficulty transferring to evening work and refusal would therefore be justified.

Workplace: A minor change of workplace is unlikely to make a job unsuitable if the nature of the job itself has not changed i.e. 121 Kings Road to Abbey Gardens would be deemed suitable. In general, however, significant extra travelling time and cost could make refusal reasonable.

Job Prospects: This is a difficult one to approach objectively but if the new job on offer is only temporary, with no real guarantee for the future, this may make it unsuitable.

** A couple of other points worth noting are the following:

If a job is offered which is not identical but is ‘suitable employment in relation to the employee’, this is deemed as suitable. However, an employee may choose to accept alternative employment whereby only a few if any of the above factors apply. If the employee agrees to take the new role then this would be deemed suitable.

An employee may lose entitlement to a redundancy payment if they refuse ‘suitable’ alternative employment, but not if they refuse ‘alternative’ employment. Certainly any employee refusing alternative employment is not resigning and can therefore expect their full redundancy entitlement.

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