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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 50170
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor
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I require advice in regards to a potential redundancy

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Hi - I require advice in regards ***** ***** potential redundancy situation after maternity leave. This situation has been developing so I'll try to be clear about the steps.
I was under the impression to be returning to my old job with no changes. I am aware previously returning mothers had meetings with HR, not so in my case. After my return I was informed HR is not involved with return after maternity leave. I have a good relationship with my manager and about 2-3 weeks prior to returning he advised me that he would leave the company due to voluntary redundancy. He mentioned a person who he believed I would be reporting to.
After returning, I asked HR re reporting line but they could not tell me and I asked said person who could not confirm and was instead waiting for a major announcement. So, my manager and also my remaining colleague were due to leave on redundancy 1.5 weeks after I returned from maternity leave. Luckily my colleague found another position just prior to leaving.
On the evening of my manager leave, I requested HR for clarification. The next morning I met with the new department head who explained that there was a drive to remove all project managers - I had already assumed this was happening. He advised they needed someone to manage an activity in project format in another department and function that was being set up, and confirmed the manager would be the person my previous manager had mentioned. I confirmed I could project manage this activity and put relevant processes and procedures in place but not in BAU afterwards. I requested a change of job title though. At the same time he was also waiting for a major announcement in a few months.
Afterwards I received a note from HR mentioning that since I had met with the department head, things had been explained to me by him. I responded subsequently that this was correct, but I had concerns about the situation - my London based team was no longer existing, the Paris team was still there. Despite those changes taking place I had not been informed during my maternity leave of those. Redundancies were being carried out.
I am glad I have a work but the situation does appear unstable. I also understand that in case of redundancies, I would have the opportunity to trial a position and there would be other support. I have thus asked HR for a meeting as this appears a redundancy situation as a wolf in sheep skin.
I like to know a professional opinion of whether the company is going the right way and give me some advice on points to clarify for my benefit in my meeting with HR next week. I greatly appreciate any support.

Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and I will be assisting you with your question today.

Please can you confirm how long you have worked there for?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Ben, apologies for the late reply, I haven't been able to log on again after posting the message. I started in the company temping in May 2000 and in 2001 I became a permanent employee.
Please let me know if you require any further details and I'll respond asap.

No problem at all and thank you for your response. I will review the relevant information and laws and will get back to you at the earliest opportunity. There is no need to wait here as you will receive an email when I have responded. Also, please do not responded to this message as it will just push your question to the back of the queue and you may experience unnecessary delays. Thank you.

Thanks for your patience. According to Reg. 18 of The Maternity and Parental Leave Regulations 1999, an employee who takes Additional Maternity Leave (i.e. between 6-12 months off) is entitled “to return to the job in which she was employed before her absence, or, if it is not reasonably practicable for the employer to permit her to return to that job, to another job which is both suitable for her and appropriate for her to do in the circumstances.”

This means that there is no guarantee of a return to the job you performed before going on maternity leave. If the employer can show that it is not reasonably practicable to allow you to return to that job, they need to find you something that is both suitable and appropriate for you to do instead.

If this develops into 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 law on suitable alternatives and what factors are considered when assessing the suitability of such offers, 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

Ben Jones and other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Ben, thank you for your response. I will be rating shortly as i am between 4 and 5 at the moment since you provided a detailed general response.
Senior Management have now said for me to work on project for 2 month (three was discussed as time until announcement) and they would take my expectations for professional development into consideration.
I am meeting with HR tomorrow and I like to ask you to let me know any further details such as alternatives etc you mentioned but also in applying to my specific case any advice or comments you have and specific questions recommemded for me to ask HR. Kind regards, Diana

Hi there, 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.

So the main questions for you to ask are what the current availabilities are, if they are unsuitable what could they change to make them suitable and discuss any trial periods as well if you are keen to trial the jobs.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Ben, thanks. You last response has been very helpful and will help me to prepare. I gave the review stars too early and have asked support how i can amend them to a 5.
At this stage nothing has been announced but the situation have the feeling of redundancy. When would you say based on your knowledge should an employer notify the employee about redundancy? I am also concerned that once i have worked in the new position for a while and it does not work out I have no way of opting for/proposing voluntary redundancy. What do i need to be aware off to ensure my .
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
To ensure i do not end up in a worse - for me -position.
Kind regards, diana

An employer has a duty to consult with employees once a redundancy situation arises. So there is a requirement to inform you and to start a consultation process when the is a redundancy. In terms of starting in a new position that is why there is a trial period there if you are unsure about it, so you can spend 4 weeks trialling the job before deciding whether it is suitable and wish to take it up permanently.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Ben, so if I understand correctly - my team has in effect been made redundant without official notification to my and I've been informed people holding my position in London are also being made redundant. In case of redundancy, I would have needed to be informed, would have the option to look for jobs internally and experience them during a trial period prior to deciding to take them else opt for redundancy - what I see almost as a temporary financial safety net.
But as I have not been informed, I was moved to another position (title like those that are being cut) for the next couple of months. If I decide it is not for me, I could of course hand in my notice but would be leaving without a safety net. Is this correct?
At the same time the impending re-org might place me in another position where I am at risk or they move me to another position without written notification. I've already been informed of the job they like me to do and I have advised the department head this would not before me. Yet they may still like to place me in that position. Right?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Apologies for more and more queries popping up though I think I understand the subject now and just require revalidation this is correct. Hope this is fine. Thank you for your time & all this information.

your interpretation is on the whole correct. The only thing I would say is that this move for a couple of months should only be treated as a temporary one and you need to advise the employer that you are not accepting it as a permanent move and at the end of it you would expect to either be offered a suitable alternative job or be made redundant.