5. To be considered for another suitable job within the business…
…if relevant vacancies genuinely exist.
If you’ve been working for your employer for 2 of more years continuously, your employer must try to find you one or more alternative jobs within the business – and, by law, they must give you at least 4 weeks to try out any alternative role before you need to confirm whether you want to remain in that alternative role or not.
If they can't find you another job, however, this doesn't mean they've not acted fairly or lawfully.
How the offer should be made
For an employer to lawfully offer you an alternative offer of work, they should have set out that offer to you in writing and stated that it's unconditional on you doing anything.
In particular, you shouldn't need to apply for this alternative role – they must offer it to you.
They must also:
- have made the offer before your current contract ends
- described how the new job is different from the one that's being made redundant, and
- ensure that the new job starts less than 4 weeks after your old contract is set to expire (according to the date set out in the redundancy notice they should have served on you)
The 4-week trial period isn't affected by you being ill or on holiday for part of it, i.e. you're not legally entitled to an extension of that period, although your employer may well be prepared to agree to one.
If you agreed to a trial period longer than 4 weeks, it should be recorded in a writing communication between you. Normally, your employer will write to you to confirm this. They may ask you to countersign that letter as evidence that you agree.
If you want the alternative job
If you decide to accept the alternative job, you should ask your employer for a new contract, a new, clear job description and confirmation of how this compares to your existing terms and conditions, e.g. change of pay, working hours, location etc., so that you know exactly what you’re agreeing to. You may want to make your acceptance conditional on the 4-week trial period you’re entitled to.
If you don’t want the job
Right from the outset, or, if you agree to a trial period before those 4 weeks are up, you can decide that the alternative role isn't for you and you should tell your employer that in writing.
If you decide not to go ahead, then (provided that you refuse the job within this 4-week time frame) you’ll retain your right to any redundancy pay you would have been entitled to if no alternative role had been offered by your employer.
There may be multiple reasons why you might not want to accept the job. Common reasons that employees turn down alternative roles include the pay not being at the same level as their existing job, the transport arrangements or costs are more costly, the logistics of the job can’t be managed around family life in the same way that the existing one can.
Many contracts contain clauses entitling an employer to work from a different location. If your contract contains this clause, then if the travel time and costs to this location are reasonably similar to what you experience with your existing role, a change of location wouldn't be a sufficient reason for you to refuse the job and take redundancy instead.
Your employer can refuse to pay you redundancy pay if they believe your reason(s) for refusing the alternative job isn't reasonable.
If you find yourself in this position, our expert partner recommends:
- asking your employer for a meeting to discuss this. You might want to keep this informal to begin with. It could be a misunderstanding or they may have failed to appreciate why you don’t feel able to accept the alternative
- if this doesn’t work, you could raise a formal complaint about the process – called raising a grievance, and your employer should have a grievance policy in place setting out the steps and process you should follow. Here you should make sure that your complaint points out what’s happened, why you haven’t accepted the job and you should request that your redundancy pay is paid to you
- grievance processes should include an appeal process if your employer turns down your first attempt to resolve this. If your appeal is unsuccessful, you can apply to Acas, for what’s called early conciliation, where they'll essentially mediate between you and your employer to try to reach a resolution that’s acceptable to both you and your employer
- if this doesn’t get you the outcome you want, you still have the option of bringing an employment tribunal claim. This is a last resort and you should take legal advice before you consider doing this.