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Can I refuse suitable alternative employment when being made redundant?

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If your employer has notified you that your role is at risk of being made redundant, they are obliged to consider whether there is the possibility of offering you alternative employment so as to avoid redundancy. You can refuse the role if one is found, but you should be cautious as doing so on unreasonable grounds will mean that you are not entitled to your statutory redundancy payment. In this article, our Employment Law team details what your employer must do to offer you an alternative role and for what reasons you can turn down the role and still receive your redundancy pay.

In a redundancy situation and when offering you alternative employment, your employer must:

  • make the offer either in writing, or orally;
  • make the offer before your current term of employment ends;
  • make sure the new role starts within four weeks of your current role;
  • give you enough detail about the new role so that you understand what is expected of you and how it differs from your present job.

Your employer can offer you an alternative job in any way they see fit, but if they do not follow the above steps you can refuse the role and still receive your statutory redundancy pay, if you are entitled to it.

What happens if I am offered alternative employment?

If your employer finds alternative employment for you, it may be offered to you subject to a trial period. The trial period will usually last for four weeks and if your employer finds multiple alternative roles, you can spend four weeks trialling each one. If you and your employer agree to extend a trial period to allow you to get additional training for the role, you must get this in writing with a clear end date. If you unreasonably terminate the engagement during the trial period, you will lose your right to a redundancy payment. However, if the alternative role is not successful during the trial period, and your previous role is no longer there, you will be entitled your redundancy payment after the trial period.

The test to determine if the offer of alternative employment is suitable is an objective test, but the test of whether or not your rejection of the offer is a subjective one, and your particular circumstances will be considered.

What can I do if I don’t want to take the alternative employment?

If you do not want to take any alternative role(s) your employer has found, you must have a good reason for doing so. These can be:

  • reduced pay from your previous role;
  • a longer commute or lack of public transport;
  • incurring extra costs when travelling to work;
  • causing problems in your private life, for example problems with childcare;
  • health issues.

In regards to location, you may want to check if your employment contract states that your employer may ask you to work in another location. If it does, and the alternative role is the same as your current role in regards to travel time and cost, the different location will not be enough cause for you to reasonably refuse the role.

Before refusing any alternative roles, you will need to make sure that you are entitled to redundancy pay. If you have worked for your employer for a minimum of two years by the time your current job ends, you will be entitled to the statutory redundancy package. You will then need to refuse the alternative role before your current job ends, or before the end of the alternative job’s four week trial.

Being made redundant can be stressful and rejecting alternative employment, even with good reasons, has its risks. For our advice on this matter, or on what to do if your employer doesn’t accept your reasons for refusing alternative employment, you can contact our Employment team on 023 8071 7717 or email employment@warnergoodman.co.uk.

ENDS

This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice.  All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.