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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
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It has been announced that our offices are relocating (to a

Resolved Question:

It has been announced that our offices are relocating (to a new office with our sister company) on 1st November 2014 (2 months time). The new office is 40 miles away from the current office and we are a company of 30 people.
We have been provided very little information other than they hope everyone will relocate to the new offices!
We have received no official paperwork other than an email with a targeted move date and an outline of mileage compensation. A small number of the staff have had a meeting in which we've been told we can relocate or it would be a redundancy situation. We've also been told there will be a possibility of flexible hours (but not official outline has been communicated - same for potentially working from home for some staff).
I have a few questions about the staff rights:-
1. Are we in a 'consultation' period now?
2. If a member of staff decides not to relocate, and takes redundancy, am I correct in saying this is NOT voluntary? If it's the statutory sum, surely this is not voluntary redundancy?
3. If a member of staff wishes to hand their notice in now, on the basis they do not wish to relocate on the terms given, are they entitled to a redundancy payout? I assume so as it has been communicated that people will relocate or be made redundant and a move date has been set? If not, when exactly is this meant to happen? It's very confusing!
4. If we are to relocate on 1st November, and some staff are owed 3-months notice from the Company (for their length of service notice), I assume this is on top of any redundancy payout? ie. statutory redundancy and then taxed salary for 3-months?
And, if the company want the member of staff to work out their 3-month notice period, I assume they can't force them to work it at the new offices? What would happen in this situation? We would still have the old offices.
5. Lastly, a very small team of staff is currently in discussion with the bosses about remaining at the current offices (and not relocating). If they allow this to happen, surely everyone is entitled to stay or request it? They will decline it but I don't understand how that would not be deemed as 'unfair dismissal'?
6. Lastly, are ALL employees entitled to be offered the same mileage compensation package? Or can the employer offer different mileage values to staff? Can they employer also offer incentives to some, but not others, in this relocation situation?
Please could you get back to me as soon as possible with as much clear info as possible on this particular redundancy situation.
With thanks
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.
Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. How long have you been working there for?

Customer:

I've personally been with the company 12 years

Customer:

a full 12-years

Ben Jones :

ok thanks, ***** ***** consider your queries and I will respond on here shortly

Customer:

ok thanks Ben. Please try and be as specific as possible to the relocation situation as I don't believe the company are handling this correctly at all.

Customer:

Sorry - I forgot 1 question... Am I right in saying that if an employee doesn't want to resign until they've tried working int he new location, they can opt to trial it for 4-weeks and then decided whether to relocate or take redundancy? Thanks

Ben Jones :

To answer your specific questions:

1. Are we in a 'consultation' period now?

The likelihood is that you are. This would usually happen once the employer has advised that redundancies are likely and you are placed at risk of redundancy. You would then be consulted with the employer over the proposed redundancies and this would either need to be done collectively (if more than 20 people are to be made redundant) or via individual consultation meetings. This could simply be the start of the process but I expect more to come.

2. If a member of staff decides not to relocate, and takes redundancy, am I correct in saying this is NOT voluntary? If it's the statutory sum, surely this is not voluntary redundancy?

No, this is not voluntary redundancy, this would only occur if the employer says that redundancies will occur and asks for employees to come forward and volunteer themselves for redundancy, which is not the case here – you do not volunteer yourself for redundancy if you refuse alternative employment that is offered to you.

3. If a member of staff wishes to hand their notice in now, on the basis they do not wish to relocate on the terms given, are they entitled to a redundancy payout? I assume so as it has been communicated that people will relocate or be made redundant and a move date has been set? If not, when exactly is this meant to happen? It's very confusing!

Employees should not be handing in their notice at any stage because that would amount to resignation and in that case they would not be entitled to any redundancy. They have to signify their rejection of being relocated and then leave it for the employer to finalise the redundancy process and then issue the employees with notice of redundancy.

4. If we are to relocate on 1st November, and some staff are owed 3-months notice from the Company (for their length of service notice), I assume this is on top of any redundancy payout? ie. statutory redundancy and then taxed salary for 3-months? And, if the company want the member of staff to work out their 3-month notice period, I assume they can't force them to work it at the new offices? What would happen in this situation? We would still have the old offices.

Yes, if you are to be made redundant you will get your statutory redundancy pay and on top of that you will also get your notice period as per contract, as well as any outstanding holidays. The employer cannot force you to work at the new location unless there was some sort of relocation clause which could allow them to ask you to move on a temporary basis. If there isn’t, then you will likely be paid in lieu of notice or they could ask you to remain working in the current location.

5. Lastly, a very small team of staff is currently in discussion with the bosses about remaining at the current offices (and not relocating). If they allow this to happen, surely everyone is entitled to stay or request it? They will decline it but I don't understand how that would not be deemed as 'unfair dismissal'?

If the option of staying in the current offices exists then ideally everyone should be given this opportunity because the employer has a legal duty to offer those at risk of redundancy suitable alternative employment.

6. Lastly, are ALL employees entitled to be offered the same mileage compensation package? Or can the employer offer different mileage values to staff? Can they employer also offer incentives to some, but not others, in this relocation situation?

The employer can choose what package they want to offer individually to employees so not everyone will be entitled to the exact same compensation or incentives – that could depend on how much they want to keep certain staff and some could be offered better packages than others – that is not unlawful.

7. Am I right in saying that if an employee doesn't want to resign until they've tried working int he new location, they can opt to trial it for 4-weeks and then decided whether to relocate or take redundancy?

Yes that is correct, you have the right to a 4-week statutory trial in any new position that is offered to you before you decide whether you want to accept or reject it.

Customer:

Thanks Ben. I need to have a proper read... can you give me an hour?

Customer:

I do have a couple of immediate follow on questions though:-

Customer:

I am due to be on holiday for a week, commencing just before the move date... Ca I request that my 4-week trial begins on my return from holiday?

Customer:

With regards ***** ***** 1.... I stil don't understand the procedure as they're telling everyone that they WANT them to relocate to the new offices but that if they don't, it would be a redundancy situation.... Therefore it's impossible to gauge how many people will be taking redundancy... We are only a team of 30 anyway so it would be less than 20, I'm sure!

Ben Jones :

the trial period would start when your contract under the old job comes to an end, so it automatically starts when you stop working in your current post. As to the relocation, the employer has a duty to offer you suitable alternative employment so they will offer you the new location and hope you accept it so they avoid having to make you redundant but if that is not a suitable offer for you then you can reject it and opt for redundancy instead

Customer:

...and.... With regards ***** ***** 3, one of my colleagues has considered her options and has decided she doesn't wish to relocate. If she writes to the employer saying this (but not resigning) what timeline must the employer work to? Surely they can't just drag it out until 1st November? I am concerned that between now and 1st November, there isn't enough time for people to have consultations and reasonable time to consider offers, and then respond before 1st November!?!?

Ben Jones :

consultation can easily happen in the space of a week or two so this is not an issue. If she has rejected the offer now then the employer can still require her to work as normal until the 1 Nov after which they can make her redundant

Customer:

Oh ok.. I see. And just to go back to question 2.... I took out insurance for redundancy quite some time ago which is why I'm keen to understand whether this is voluntary or not... If they offer me flexible hours and some working from home, and I trial it for 4-weeks, but for whatever reason it doesn't work for me... Am I still entitled to statutory redundancy and therefore any letter from my employer would state that I'd been made redundant? Or would this classify as something else that would leave me unable to claim on my insurance policy? Sorry this is a lot of questions - I need to understand all my options though, and also for the other staff!

Ben Jones :

this is not voluntary redundancy, this is still compulsory redundancy

Customer:

OK and how about my trial period starting a week later (as I'm on holiday?)?

Ben Jones :

it has to start when your current contract ends, so when you actually stop doing your current job

Ben Jones :

So in this case likely to be from 1 Nov

Customer:

ok, thanks Ben. Lastly (I think!) - my boss asked me to have a think about what flexible hours/working from home would be acceptable to me. I've emailed them with my suggestion of a few days from home and the other 2-days int he office. Other staff have also submitted their thoughts. Do they have a timeline in which to respond to this? I did ask the boss and his reply was:

"Once I have sent out the final letter detailing all the proposed compensations etc, I will follow up with you on the contents of your email as part of the consultative process.

Ben Jones :

No official timeline but obviously needs to be done before the redundancy is confirmed

Customer:

If they grant someone else 'working from home' as requested, would it not be deemed as unreasonable not to grant my request (I work from home sometimes now).

Ben Jones :

Not necessarily, each person';s circumstances can be different and also the employer cannot then apply the same to everyone else that wants it because the business may not be able to accommodate so many home workers

Customer:

OK. With regards ***** ***** 5 Ben, from what I can tell the option to stay in the offices WONT be open to everyone, just the small team of 3... Is that reasonable? Surely they can't have 1 rule for some but everyone else has to relocate or take redundancy??

Customer:

Some other employees have already expressed (mainly to me and one other) that they believe this would be unfair...

Customer:

I am sorry for all the questions - but our employer is giving no information on our rights and even the date for relocation they have stated as being a 'target date'.. Surely this is unreasonable for staff and it's stressing people out too.

Ben Jones :

that depends on who they actually need in the new location or the old one, but if the option for you to stay exists and there is no plausible justification for not including you in this offer then this should also be considered for you. Often in redundancies it is not known exactly when this may happen so a target date is certainly not uncommon, unfortunately you just have to get on with your job because you are still employed to do a job at present and despite the uncertainty must continue doing so

Customer:

OK... Sorry - Very last question: If I have taken MORE holiday than I would effectively have earned can they deduct it in a redundancy situation? I assume I am entitle to accrue holiday through the 3-months notice...

Ben Jones :

if you have taken more than you are due at the time of redundancy the excess can be deducted from your pay. You only continue to accrue holidays in the notice period if you actually work through it - if you are paid in lieu of notice then you do not accrue it

Customer:

If I am asked to 'be available' ie garden leave... can I accrue holiday?

Ben Jones :

yes

Customer:

I guess effectively I'd be paid anyway as I have holiday booked in December but if I'm made redundant on 1st November then they'd be paying me 3-months notice anyway?

Ben Jones :

it really depends whether you remain an employee with them throughout your notice period or not

Customer:

ok, thanks for your help Ben. If I want to return to this thread at any point with another question (with yourself) is that possible? Hppy to pay an additional sum, but rather not explain it all again?

Ben Jones :

you will need to start a new question but you can start it with 'for Ben Jones' so I get it and I will be able to have access to this query for reference

Customer:

OK great - thank you so much for your help!!

Ben Jones :

you are welcome

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