Employer requirement to offer alternative employment to staff at risk of redundancy
As employers looking to make redundancies you have a duty to look for alternative employment for your potentially redundant employees. If you do not consider whether any suitable alternative employment existed within the business you could expose yourself to a claim of unfair dismissal.
Redundancy payments and alternative work: If a redundant employee accepts an offer of alternative employment, he or she will be considered not to have been dismissed when the original contract comes to an end. The employee will be entitled to continuous employment. As the employee has not been dismissed, there will be no entitlement to a redundancy payment.
Alternative roles and trial periods: if the contractual terms that apply to the new role are different to the original role or terms and conditions, the alternative role should be subject to a trial period., normally of 4 weeks. The 4-week trial period can be extended if the employee requires training. When an employee resigns, or gives notice, during the trial period, or the employer dismisses, or gives notice to, the employee, then the original redundancy dismissal will stand and the employee will be entitled to a redundancy payment.
Alternative Roles: you should consider what alternative work might be available within the business as soon as it becomes clear that redundancies may be required. The process of considering alternative work opportunities should be constantly reviewed right up to the date of dismissal.
You are not required to create alternative employment for redundant employees if there are no roles available. You should make a comprehensive search for alternative roles and make sure you keep records of all searched undertaken!
You must provide sufficient information about any vacancies to staff at risk of redundancy, to ensure the employees can make an informed decision to take the new role. You must not assume that an employee would not want to take a more junior or less well-paid role as an alternative to redundancy. Present all vacancies available to all staff!
Offering Alternative Roles: Any potentially redundant employees on maternity or adoption leave should be offered any suitable alternative vacancies first. If you have multiple vacancies you are entitled to undertake a competitive interview process and offer the role to the person that you considers to be the best candidate for the job.
You are required to act fairly and reasonably and to be mindful of the risk of discrimination issues in making selection decisions.
Refusal of an Offer of Alternative Role: if an employees unreasonably refuses an offer of suitable alternative employment you can refuse to provide them with a redundancy payment – do so with caution.
When an employer refuses an alternative role, they can do so on the following grounds:
- Time given to consider the alternative employment offer – too short.
- The status of the alternative role - is it temporary or permanent?
- The employee’s personal situation - will the role have an adverse impact on the employee’s family circumstances?
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The redundancy process can be difficult for both the employer and employee. Whether through compulsory or voluntary redundancy, there are legal requirements to follow for both parties. Ensuring all legal steps are followed and the redundancy is lawfully fair is key. If you have any questions and are either party in a voluntary or compulsory redundancy, please call Walker Rose Solicitors on 0203 973 9343, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out an enquiry form.
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