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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71388
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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My employer has closed my usual work place in Doncaster and

Customer Question

Hi my employer has closed my usual work place in Doncaster and havw informed me that I will now be working at Barnsley. This was done without any consulting. I have been given no option. And as its 23miles away the financial impact for me will be substantial. Is this something that is allowed? My contract states Doncaster as my base but that I could be asked to work in other locations.
JA: Have you discussed this with a manager or HR? Or with a lawyer?
Customer: I have spoken with HR and a manager and they have offered me half the cost of petrol for a month!
JA: What is your employment status? Are you an employee, freelancer, consultant or contractor? Do you belong to a union?
Customer: I am on a permanent contract with them, they bought out the company I originally worked for. I was originally a Receptionist/Administrator but as colleagues have left I've been expected to complete tasks that are not my usual role. I'm not in a union I'm afraid. My job role now, isn't the one I originally accepted.
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: Can I just confirm that this is a free consultation?
Submitted: 21 days ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 21 days ago.

Hello, I’m Ben. It’s my pleasure to assist you today. I may also ask for some preliminary information to help me determine the legal position.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 21 days ago.

How long have you worked there for? Please note this is not always an instant service and I may not be able to reply immediately. However, rest assured that I am dealing with your question and will get back to you today. Thanks

Customer: replied 21 days ago.
Hello Ben, thank you for your time.
I took the reception job in Jan 2017, in the summer of 2019 the company was bought out by my current employer. I signed a new contract with then in December 2019.
I've been without a line manager all year (up to August) and my role has changed so much.
I'm currently on sick leave with work related stress.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 21 days ago.

Many thanks for your patience, I am pleased to be able to continue assisting with your query now.

Did you transfer to the current company under TUPE?

Customer: replied 21 days ago.
Customer: replied 21 days ago.
We were TUPE'd over. I have a colleague that is in a similar situation. It's only the two of us left from the original staff at Doncaster. As the other staff were not happy and found other jobs.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 21 days ago.

Thank you very much for clarifying. First of all, I am sorry to hear about the issues you have experienced in your situation.

The starting point is that the closure of a workplace amounts to a redundancy in law. As part of a fair redundancy procedure, employers are required to offer suitable alternative employment to those employees who are at risk of redundancy. The objective is to avoid having to make them redundant and keep them in a suitable job, even if they have been made redundant from their original one.

There must be an offer by the employer and that must be made before their current job officially ends. However, an offer does not mean the employee automatically gets the job in question and the employer could still potentially take them through a competitive recruitment process, such as an interview to determine their suitability.

Once an offer is made and subject to any successful selection, there are two possible outcomes:

- The employee accepts the offer – in this case their employment will continue in the new role and there would be no redundancy

- The employee rejects the offer – this should only happen if the job is not suitable and the employee reasonably rejects it. If these conditions are not met, they risk forfeiting their redundancy pay as they would be considered to have resigned instead.

As mentioned, there are two elements to a successful rejection – reasonableness and suitability. Reasonableness is based on the subjective reasons the employee has for rejecting it, such as personal circumstances, health, family commitments, etc. In the end, the main question is whether considering the particular circumstances, the employee acted reasonably in rejecting this offer.

Suitability is based on both objective and subjective criteria, with the most common factors that could make an offer unsuitable being:

- Job content/status – drop in status or significant changes in duties, which do not match the employee’s skills, experience and qualifications

- Pay and other benefits – significant drop in earnings/benefits (e.g. basic pay, bonuses, overtime, commission, etc)

- Working hours – change in shift pattern, significant extension/reduction of working hours

- Location – new workplace location, with an increased commute, making it unreasonable to travel there

- Job prospects – going from permanent to temporary or fixed-term work

Finally, 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. This is an opportunity for both employer and employee to determine its suitability. If during the trial period they decide that the job is not suitable they should tell their employer straight away and terminate the trial period. Assuming the offer was not suitable and was reasonably rejected, they should still be made redundant from their original job and receive redundancy pay.

The employer may try and rely on the relocation clause but you should fight it on the basis that this should not result in a permanent move, rather it should be applied on an as-needed basis, for example if you need to cover a different office temporarily.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 21 days ago.

Hopefully, I have answered your query in a way that is simple and easy to understand. If anything remains unclear, I will be more than happy to clarify it for you. In the meantime, thank you once again for using our services.

Customer: replied 21 days ago.
Thank you, ***** was informed of the Doncaster site being closed, they didn't word it as such. They said we'd be opening outreach centres instead, but as it transpired they don't need a Receptionist at those I was just informed that I'd be working at Barnsley.
Do you suggest I approach HR and outright ask about redundancy? Due to my work base being closed? I can't afford the travel costs, but also some of my duties are not what I expected.
Thanks for your help.
I'll check back with you tomorrow.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 20 days ago.

Hello, thank you for your further queries, I will be happy to answer these. Yes you should indeed approach them about redundancy but also note that you cannot force them to go down that route. It does mean that you are then potentially looking at either taking up the new role or resigning and claiming constructive dismissal in the Employment Tribunal. I very much hope that your further queries have been answered to your satisfaction and please do not hesitate to get back to me if you need further clarification.

Customer: replied 20 days ago.
Many thanks they have hinted to my colleague at redundancy, so I'm hopeful but cautious. Thanks again.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 20 days ago.

You are most welcome. If you have any further questions about this then please do not hesitate to get back to me and I will be glad to help. All the best