Redundancy - Getting it Right

by Kate Russell

Redeployment

You are under a duty to tell employees who are at risk of redundancy about suitable alternative work.

In some cases you can redeploy an at risk employee into a new role without going through a recruitment process. If you feel the employee will be a good match for the new role and there is no need to test him and there are no other contenders you can simply transfer the employee into the role.

More commonly you will give the employee(s) at risk of redundancy the opportunity to express an interest in an alternative role. Such employees will have the first opportunity to be considered for alternative roles and to be interviewed for them, where appropriate. The alternative work shouldn’t be advertised more broadly (even internally) until the employees who are at risk have had a chance to apply. It doesn’t mean that they automatically get the role. If they are interviewed and are unsuccessful, then you will continue to look for alternatives to redundancy for them and make them redundant if you don’t have any success.

An employee who does accept an offer of alternative work is allowed a trial period to see if the work is really suitable. For the purposes of calculating continuity of employment, this trial period is regarded as starting from when the employee’s old job ends, even where there is in fact a gap between jobs. The trial period will normally continue for four weeks after the employee starts work, but may be extended by agreement between employer and employee in order to retrain the employee for the new work.

If an employee leaves his work with good reason or is dismissed (for example, because he is unable to carry out the duties of the new work or the training) during the trial period, he will retain his rights to payment under the protective award. If, however, he gives up the work or training without adequate reason or you dismiss him fairly for reasons unconnected with the changed terms of employment – misconduct, for example – he will lose his right to payment for the rest of the protected period.

The trial period may be extended to retrain the employee for the new work, by agreement between two parties. Such agreements must be made before the employee starts the new work, must be in writing and must specify the date that the trial period ends and the terms and conditions of employment that will apply after that date.

Employees have a right to a new trial period if they start a different job at any time during the protected period and it makes no difference whether you offer them work before or after the end of the old job.