21 May 2020
If you’ve recruited well, you’ll have some great talent in your organisation. So, letting those individuals go can be tough.
But there’s a way to keep them—even if there’s no longer a business need. One that’s a mandatory task, in fact, during the redundancy process. You can provide them with suitable alternative employment.
You might have heard this term when dealing with redundancy before, so let’s take a look at what the employment law term means.
What is suitable alternative employment in redundancy?
Whether a job is suitable usually depends on a number of factors. For example:
- How much the employee will be paid and what benefits they’ll get.
- The job and its location—is it further to travel?
- How similar the role is to their current one.
- What terms you’re offering.
- Their skills and ability to perform the role.
Redundancy and suitable alternative employment go hand in hand.
For instance, if an alternative role becomes available, you must make the employee who is to be made redundant aware of it. That way, they have the option to apply for it.
How to offer an alternative job instead of redundancy
Offering an alternative job instead of redundancy may seem daunting at first.
However, it can just be as simple as informing the employee of any other positions you currently have available in the business. They might decide to refuse—and accept redundancy instead.
If they accept, then it’s up to you how to proceed. The employee might require additional training to take on the new role, or they might a trial period to see if the position suits them.
In some cases, it may be a good idea for them to interview for the position.
The most important thing is to ensure you provide the job offer before their current job ends. The employee should also start their new role within four weeks of their current job ending.
So make sure you give enough time for all of these elements to be considered.
The employee refuses the alternative position—what are my options?
This depends on the reasons for refusal. For example, if the employee is refusing the position because they would have to change location, you may just have to accept and provide redundancy pay.
However, if you have a mobility clause, this might not be the case.
There are plenty of variants, and lots of solutions to go with them. For help with your situation, call a Croner HR expert on 01455 858 132.
Do I have to offer alternative employment?
You have to provide employees with information about any alternative roles available. When considering redundancy, a reasonable alternative role offer is part of the process.
That doesn’t mean you have to give them the job. If you’re not sure that they’re a good fit, conduct an interview process.
Give them a fair chance. If they’re really unfit for the role, the interview will highlight that. Then, you can proceed with the redundancy process as normal.
Redundancy & alternative roles rules
As with all HR processes, there are a few rules you need to be aware of.
Employment law and alternative employment redundancy is complex, but here are a couple of the main areas you need to consider.
Firstly, you can offer a person facing redundancy an alternative job on less pay. Failure to do so, in fact, may result in a claim of unfair dismissal.
The role is less likely to be accepted and is unlikely to be deemed a “suitable” alternative. But, if it’s the only alternative available, you should make them aware of it.
We mentioned before about redundancy and suitable alternative employment distance. A mobility clause in the contract means you can reasonably expect an employee to relocate.
Without one, any relocation to a site that isn’t the employee’s current workplace is likely to make the alternative unsuitable.
If you do have a mobility clause, relocation is possible, but can still be unfair. This is dependent on the distance you’re asking the employee to travel and how much notice you give.
Asking an employee to move great distances in a very short space of time is likely to be considered unfair.
For example, you can't ask them to relocate to the other end of the country with just a day’s notice.
As a general rule, the bigger the distance, the longer the notice. If you need the employee to relocate to a different country, they’ll need a substantial amount of time to get their affairs in order.
Consult with the individual to find out how long is reasonable.
Do I have to provide an alternative employment offer due to coronavirus?
The Job Retention Scheme and furlough don’t supersede regular employment law. That means when it comes to redundancy and alternative employment, you should operate normally.
If you’re going to make an employee redundant, you must make them aware of any alternative positions you have available.
Follow a fair redundancy process throughout. And keep communications with the affected individual(s) open.
Redundancy is a complex and difficult process. If you need support, call a Croner adviser today on 01455 858 132.
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