Redundancy and Offers of Reasonable Alternative Employment

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Tribunals must assess the reasonableness of the employee and not the reasonableness of any employee.

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In the recent Employment Appeal Tribunal’s case of Readman V Devon Primary Care Trust, it was ruled that when measuring reasonableness in regards to the alternative employment offered, Tribunals must assess the reasonableness of the employee and not the reasonableness of any employee.

Ms Readman had worked as a community nurse for over 25 years, and was subject to redundancy, during which she was offered 3 alternative positions, one being a position of Matron in a Hospital, It was later ruled by the Employment Tribunal that this was a suitable alternative under Section 141(3) of the Employment Rights Act 1996.

On this basis the Tribunal claimed that the Respondent had been correct in failing to pay a redundancy payment, on the basis that Ms Readman had rejected a reasonable offer of employment.

The decision was overturned by the Appeal Tribunal, who deemed that whilst they were correct in stating that the position of Matron was a suitable alternative to offer Ms Readman, the application of the reasonableness test was incorrect.

The Original Tribunal applied the test of reasonableness to be that of, whether a reasonable employee would have accepted this offer of employment. The question to ask is was it reasonable for Ms Readman to refuse the offer of employment, aside from what others would choose to do. It was ruled that Ms Readman had been reasonable in her rejection of the position due to the period of time which had elapsed since she had worked in a hospitalised environment.

It is thus for employers to take careful consideration as to what they choose to offer people as an alternative position, during redundancy proceedings. Offers of any job cannot just been made, as it must be considered how the specific employee will respond to the position offered. 

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