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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 48761
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Two years ago my office had 33 staff we lost our core client

Customer Question

Two years ago my office had 33 staff we lost our core client and some were TUPE across leaving 13 staff. My company propose to relocate the business to a smaller office with 6 desks for 8 staff as the current office of 13 staff is non profitable. I am part of business support as a Technical officer and the other post in business support is Admin Team Leader. They have made the Admin Team leader at risk and propose to slot me into the role of Commercial Assistant reporting to Commerical Manager at our head office in Norwich some 45miles away from the proposed new office (not yet found alternative premises yet) I feel both the Admin Team leader and the Technical Officer are both redundant on the basis of not enough work, but I am being told that I can do similar work for the wider Project Business Support Team based in Norwich from the new office. I believe they are not making me redundant because they want to take some of the workload from the Norwich office. How do I stand ? do I have to take on this work ?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and I will be assisting you with your question today. Does your contract state that you can be asked to take on additional work and also how much will taking on this work change your current job descrition?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Ben my current contract states 'to undertake such associated duties that may be required by the Practice Manager consistent with the grading of the post. The Practice Manager has been made redundant. Another duty on my contract is to ensure the smooth running of the office for the Administration Team Leader in her absence. The Team leader has been made redundant. But what they are proposing is that the Commercial Assistant role they are wanting to slot me will absorb any general administration duties. But in the Proposal for the closure of the office they state under 4.4.3 'It is proposed all other general administration duties will be undertaken by either the professional staff or by the central administration team at head office Norwich.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
As for how much this work will change my job - there will be administration duties that I only had previously in the Admin Leaders absence. The fact is I worked 4 days a week for 33 people and now they are trying to fulfil the role as commercial assistant with work from Norwich because effectively working for 6 people will mean I would be redundant.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
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Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

To start with, the relocation is likely to amount to a redundancy situation. The Employment Rights Act 1996 defines redundancy as:

1. Business closure – where the whole of the employer’s business is closed

2. Workplace closure – closure or relocation of one or more sites

3. Reduced requirement for employees to carry out work of a particular kind (this is where many employees get confused as they believe a job has to actually disappear for them to be made redundant).

So your situation will clearly fall within the definition of redundancy. If there is a redundancy situation, an employer has a duty to offer those employees at risk any suitable alternative employment (“SAE”) that may exist at the time. The objective is to keep the employee in a job rather than make them redundant. Therefore, if an employee accepts an offer of SAE, their employment will continue in the new position and they would lose their entitlement to a redundancy payment.

If the offer is considered unsuitable and the employee refuses it, they will be made redundant and still receive redundancy pay. However, if the offer was suitable and the employee unreasonably refuses it, they would effectively be resigning and will lose their entitlement to redundancy pay.

This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of the factors that determine the suitability of an alternative position, which I wish to discuss so please take a second to leave a positive rating for the service so far (by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars) and I can continue with that and answer any further questions you may have. Don’t worry, there is no extra cost and leaving a rating will not close the question and we can continue this discussion. Thank you

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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The relocation of the workplace is likely to be 10 miles from the closed office which means I could not claim redundancy on those grounds. It is purely the volume of work in the new office, I can only see 2 mornings a week work not 4 days but they are proposing the work from outside the office from the main head office.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Is it deemed reasonable for the alternative job to be of similar work but for the wider company ? Although there clearly isn't enough work generated at the new smaller office.?
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

Thank you. Even with a 10 mile radius of the move, redundancy could still apply, unless you hd a relocation clause in the contract. Even if the distance itelf is not an issue, the changes t the work can be sufficient. The most common factors that would make an offer unsuitable are:

· Job content/status – drop in status, substantial changes in duties, etc.

· Pay and other benefits – significant drop in earnings/benefits (e.g. basic pay, bonuses, overtime, sick pay, holidays)

· Working hours – change in shift pattern, removal of overtime, extension/reduction of working hours

· Change of workplace – new location making it unreasonable to travel to the new place of work

· Job prospects – going from permanent to temporary work, becoming self-employed or being employed on a fixed-term contract.

Where an offer of alternative employment has been made and its terms and conditions are different to the employee's current terms, they have the right to a 4-week trial period. If during the trial period they decide that the job is not suitable they should tell their employer straight away. This will not affect their employment rights, including the right to receive statutory redundancy pay.