Can Suitable Alternative Employment Help Avoid Redundancy?

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Suitable alternative employment (SAE) is when there is an alternative role a potentially redundant employee can be ‘slotted’ into to avoid a redundancy situation. The alternative role can be within the company or any other company which is part of the same group.

Whether the alternative role is suitable the employer and employee have to take a look at the skills, qualifications, experience required in this role and whether they are similar to what was required in the potentially redundant role. Taking care and bearing in mind that job descriptions and how exactly the job was performed can be very different. In addition, the level of the role in terms of pay, benefits and terms and conditions should also be similar for the role to be considered a suitable alternative role.

Best practice is any potentially redundant employee should be offered the suitable alternative role. If an employer fails to make such an offer where there is such a role, the employee can submit a claim for unfair dismissal.

However, should the employee refuse the role themselves they may lose their right to redundancy pay. This would depend on whether the grounds for refusal were reasonable. E.g. if a community nurse was made redundant but offered an alternative role within a hospital setting, the nurse would have reasonable grounds to refuse this suitable alternative role and retain her right to redundancy pay.

Where alternative employment is available the employee should also be offered a trial period. The purpose of this trial is almost like a probationary period and the length of time can be extended. In the event the trial period and the alternative role is unsuitable, the employee retains their right to redundancy payment.

Businesses that have a redundancy policy in place which is written from a job security angle, make it easier for employers to consider what alternative roles potentially redundant employees can be offered and thereby retain their talent.

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