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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 50187
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor
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Hi I am looking for some guidance. I work

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I am looking for some guidance.
I work for for a large telecommunications company in the UK. Earlier in the year we were advised some sites around the country may be closing down and that we would have serveral options open to those affected. I am based in one of those sites. The options were redundancy or relocation, and if possible they would try to find a role which they feel you are suited to and offer that to you.
For my site, there is a large customer who is based closed by who is willing to allow there supplier (us) to be based on there premises as part of a fixed-term programme. It has been said in various meetings that these roles exist for the purpose of a 2 year programme and would be no longer be required once the programme is complete and again we will face redundancy or relocation choice, however they cannot guarantee the redundancy package is what it is currently.
My existing contract is permanent, and has my existing building location which is now confirmed as closing, I have been informed there is a role suitable on customer site and if I decline I am in effect resigning and will not get redundancy.
My fear is that although all they are proposing to change on our contracts is our location and they will remain permanent, they are in effect not permanent but fixed for the duration of the programme I will be on which does not seem right.
Can anyone advise on this?
Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.

Ben Jones :

How long have you worked there for?


7 years

Ben Jones :

So it is confirmed that this relocation is only for 2 years and there is no option to extend that further?


it was said in a meeting that the programme is currently 2 years, it could be extended as programmes are, but when this it is complete we will be either relocation or redundancy.


which goes against having a permanent contract?

Ben Jones :

ok thanks, ***** ***** get my response ready please


thanks will do

Ben Jones :

If there is a redundancy situation, such as in your position (a closure of a workplace amounts to a redundancy), 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 what the employer appears to be saying here, although you can try and argue it on the points below.

So the main issue is what makes an offer suitable and when can an employee reasonably refuse it. 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. This is the main issue here because you are going from a permanent position to something which is effectively a fixed term position for a limited period of time, after which you will have no job guarantee

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.

So it is important to consider whether any offer that has been made is suitable or if there are reasonable grounds to treat it as unsuitable and safely reject it, opting for redundancy instead. The employer could still try and argue that you have unreasonably refused their offer and cay you have resigned, refusing to pay you redundancy and in that case you will have to challenge them by taking the matter further by claiming in the employment tribunal.

Ben Jones :

Hope this clarifies your position? If you could please let me know that would be great, thank you

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