There are several factors that should be considered, when looking at whether an offer of alternative employment is “suitable” or not, these include:
- Hours of Work
Are the new hours of work different to those worked previously by the employee? You should consider whether they will lose, for example, entitlement to overtime. Also, consider if the employee worked shifts previously, will they work on a shift basis in the new employment, or will their working hours be structured in a different way?
Is the new employment located at the same place of work, or will the employee have to make a longer commute?
- Pay and benefits
Will the pay in the new employment be broadly similar, or will the employee have to take a large pay cut? If so, it is likely that that would make the offer unsuitable.
Is there is a loss of status or demotion for the employee in the new employment? If so, it is likely that this would make the offer unsuitable.
Consider the skills that the employee holds and ensure that the new job offered makes use of those skills, otherwise it is likely that the new employment will be deemed unsuitable.
- Length of contract in the new employment
If the new employment is for a very short period e.g. a few months, it may be reasonable for the employee to refuse the offer of that employment.
Remember that an employee can refuse the offer of suitable alternative employment and should they subsequently issue Tribunal proceedings for a redundancy payment and unfair dismissal, then the Tribunal would consider whether the employee was being reasonable in refusing the offer. It will be up to you, the employer, in defending the proceedings, to demonstrate that their refusal of the alternative employment was unreasonable. You will need to show that you considered the employee’s particular circumstances, when looking at what you could offer them as a suitable alternative.