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.