Employment: A reminder of the importance of communication in redundancy situations

31 January 2012 |

An EAT case* heard in March underlines the importance to employers of ensuring effectively that employee communication during the redundancy process is not overlooked.

In a redundancy situation, an employee who unreasonably refuses an offer of suitable alternative employment made before termination or within four weeks of it has no entitlement to a redundancy payment.  However, as this case shows the term “suitable offer of employment” may depend on what the employee’s perception of that offer is.  The original tribunal found that the job did not involve any loss of status and was suitable “on balance”.  It also found that the employee’s refusal to accept it was not unreasonable.  This was to be judged based on her not unreasonable perceptions.  The EAT saw nothing to justify overturning this approach.  Relevant facts were that the employer’s shortcomings in communicating or discussing the offer and that the alternative employment was only “marginally” suitable as opposed to being “plainly suitable”, which seems something of a fine dividing line.

What is clear is that employers who communicate such offers competently may be able to avoid an employee successfully arguing that his or her perception of a suitable job as unsuitable is a reasonable one thereby justifying the refusal of the offer and the retention of the right to a redundancy payment.

* Commission for Healthcare Audit and Inspection v Ward UKEAT/0579/07

View the case at http://www.employmentappeals.gov.uk/Public/Upload/07_0579fhCNJOJ.doc

Disclaimer

Content is for general information purposes only.  The information provided is not intended to be comprehensive and it does not constitute or contain legal or other advice.  If you require assistance in relation to any issue, please seek specific advice relevant to your particular circumstances.

Disclaimer

Content is for general information purposes only. The information provided is not intended to be comprehensive and it does not constitute or contain legal or other advice. If you require assistance in relation to any issue please seek specific advice relevant to your particular circumstances. In particular, no responsibility shall be accepted by the authors or by Abbiss Cadres LLP for any losses occasioned by reliance on any content appearing on or accessible from this article. For further legal information click here.

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