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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
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I am English and work for a UK company. Currently I work for

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I am English and work for a UK company. Currently I work for the company in an overseas office in Cairo, Egypt. I am an employee not a contractor/consultant. I have worked with the company over 16 years. My home base is Reading, UK (head office). I have just been told that my assignment in Egypt (not with the company) will terminate end June. Meanwhile the company is making cuts in the UK head office. They have offered Voluntary Redundancy to all employees who are currently working in the UK. However this is not being made available to me. I feel that this is unfair. They have asked me to apply for a job back in the UK. I have replied that I wish to have the same options as an employee based in the UK. In other words I would like to have the option of applying for VR – because the package is generous and I would like to do something else.
My assignment contract in Egypt with the company is under UK Terms and Conditions. I originally signed a contract in Dec 2011 for 3 years. However subsequently there was an agreement with my Manager in UK to change this to a 2 year contract which actually ended Dec 2013. So I am currently working in Egypt not under a contract. However my employer can only find the original 3 year contract which finishes Dec 2014. I am trying to approach them with an argument that I am not working abroad on a valid contract and therefore I should be offered VR.

Kind regards


Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Has anything been mentioned about the possibility of V R for your self in the near future.


Ben thanks. Sorry the connection is slow. No nothing has been mentioned. There is a rumour that there may be a second wave if there are not enough applicants for VR. However I feel that they are not treating the employees fairly and consistently.

Ben Jones :

Ok thank you leave it with me I need to look up a few things and then get my advice ready.I will post back on here when done there is no need to wait and you will receive an email when I have responded.


Ok thankyou.

Ben Jones :

Many thanks for your patience. Legally, the employer does not have to offer everyone the same opportunities in relation to VR and they can be selective with their offer. VR is something they can offer as and when needed and to whomever they feel it is appropriate to offer it. The law does not give employees equal rights in terms of being offered VR and if needed the employer can be selective. Similarly, even if you were offered the chance to apply for VR, they could have chosen not to accept your request and could have then simply said that you will not be granted VR. So there is no way to force them to consider you for or offer you VR. Also there is no discrimination if they are treating UK-based staff and foreign-based staff differently, had different races/nationalities been affected by that it would have been an issue but assuming you are British and this was just an overseas assignment, then there is no discrimination.


You also do not have a strong argument that you are not working under a valid contract at present. You had an initial 3 year contract but this was then changed to 2 years. Even if you reached that period and then carried on working beyond it, an implied contract on the existing terms and conditions would have continued to be in existence, which means the end date would have simply been deferred until the employer had taken actions to terminate it. SO in order to force through VR, this would not have much of a legal standing.


The only way you can realistically push for VR is if you were promised a job back in the UK on your return and that job no longer exists or you are unable to be placed back in it, in which case you can argue that this is a redundancy situation. It means that in the absence of anything else suitable they can offer you, it would result in a redundancy. However, if you were not specifically promised anything on your return, then they can try and slot you in to whatever suitable jobs they have, without you being able to claim redundancy.

Ben Jones :

Hello, I see you have accessed and read my answer to your query. Please let me know if this has answered your original question or if you need me to clarify anything else for you in relation to this?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks for your reply Ben. It seems a comprehensive response - kind of what I was anticipating. I think my strategy will be not to apply for any jobs in the UK and argue that any jobs which they offer me I am not interested in. By the way I did not receive an email to inform me that you had responded.


One further question is this conversation thread visible to anyone else?

Hello, the strategy seems sensible so it is a matter of trying it and see what happens, evaluating your options s you go along.

The conversation is currently visible but if you want me I can lock it for privacy. If you want me to do so please let me know. In the meantime please also be so kind to leave a rating for the response above as it is an important part of our process. Many thanks
Ben Jones and other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I would like it locked for privacy please Ben. Thanks

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Ben - relating to my question I would like to add the following:


The reason that my assignment in Egypt is being terminated early is of the same underlying reason that VR is being offered in the Head Office i.e. company performance. Also the roles that are being offered in Head Office are basically positions being left vacant by the people who have opted for VR. It seems that I am being treated unfairly as neither do I have the option for VR now, or the protection against Compulsory Redundancy later (the employees in the Head Office were warned that there were would be Compulsory Redundancy if not enough people took VR). Returning expatriates have not been ring-fenced in anyway.


Grateful for your comments.

Hi, whilst I understand your position, this additional information would not change much in terms of your legal rights I’m afraid. As mentioned the employer does not have to offer everyone the opportunity of VR and if they want to they can be selective when it comes to the choice of employees that are offered this. They should not discriminate on grounds of race/nationality, but the fact that you have worked abroad does not mean that you are being discriminated against because you are still the same race/nationality as the other employees. So I am afraid it is not legally possible for you to push for VR and force the employer to offer this to you, neither are you being treated in an unlawful manner by not being considered for VR.