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What is a Fair Redundancy Trial Period?

Employment law supports employee rights; ranging from employment contracts and trial periods, to redundancies and even to claiming unfair and wrongful dismissals. It is set up to guide employees and employers alike. It is key when navigating the complex and emotional time of redundancy.

The redundancy notice period

A redundancy period is the period given to an employee between the notice of redundancy and the last working day. The redundancy period is a contractual right in most employee agreements and is legally binding. The notice periods usually serve to give the employees ample time to make plans since in the run up to losing their job.

Employers sometimes ask employees not to work during their notice period. This is done to protect their business and restrict the employee from accessing sensitive information. It is also done to prevent them from poaching clients. This situation is called a garden leave and it applies mainly to senior executives. During the notice period, employees are still entitled to the salary and other benefits their current employment provides.

The guideline for notice periods is as follows:

  • One week’s notice period for employments lasting between one month and one year
  • One week’s notice for every year employed between two years and twelve years (for example, an employee who has been employed for 6 years will be granted a 6 week duration redundancy notice).
  • Twelve week’s notice, for employments between twelve years and more. (Twelve years is the maximum notice period, by law).

Some employees may choose to negotiate their notice periods at the beginning of their employment.

The trial period

Regulations also suggest that available alternate employment should be offered to employees in situations where they are available. In this case, instead of receiving a redundancy notice, the employee tries filling a new position for a period of time. This time is known as the trial period and is for the employee to gauge whether or not the new position is suitable for him/her.

Any alternate employment offered to the employee should be subjected to a trial period lasting for four weeks. During this time, the employee begins work in the new position and functions as an executive in the role. Individuals who have found employment outside of their current place of work may not need alternate employment and thus have no need for a trial period.

Suitable employment

The offer for alternate employment is only worthwhile for the employee if the position is suitable to his/her work experience, capability and compensation.
Since the employment is usually offered by the current employer, it is often in a position within the employee’s current firm of employment, or an associate one. The employer needs to consider seriously the suitability of the alternate offer. It is also important that the offer be made to the employee a good time before the notice period in the original job post comes to an end. Receiving and beginning the trial period in the alternate employment usually rests on a couple of factors.

These factors revolve around how well the offer measures up to the employee’s current employment. How suitable an offer is varies from employee to employee and is usually subject to some considerations. The employees weigh up the offer relative to the current employment position, and including the following considerations:

– The similarity between the two employments: The privileges and benefits attached to the new post influence how the employee perceives the position. Usually, a change in positions is expected to be followed by an upgrade in title and compensation. Other differences like the location of the new office, the work environment, and even seemingly trivial benefits like parking space influence the suitability of the position. All of these in turn influence how the employee settles into the new position.

– The skill level required to function in the new position, as a change in position invariably means different roles, duties and obligations to the company. The employee’s skill set may not be adequate for the new position in some situations and this can discourage the employee. Additionally, they could be setting themselves up for a dismissal on the basis of incompetence in the future. Other scenarios involve the employee being overqualified for the new position. A possible solution in this case, is for the employer to offer another post, with a fresh trial period, or simply revert the employee to the original employment and notice period.

Acceptance and Rejection of new offers

Having being offered an alternate employment and trial period, the employee can decide to move forward with their career in one of several ways.

The employee can choose to accept the new position, during or immediately after the trial period. This is usually the case if the new position is suitable for the employee. They can accept the job and continue in the employ of the company under the new position’s terms and conditions. Although the conditions of the new offer do not have to be in writing, it is legally advisable and in the best interests of both the employer and employee.

Conversely, the employee can also choose to refuse the offer. If they refuse the alternate employment before the trial period expires, they forfeit her rights to redundancy pay and benefits. The appointment is also terminated. However, depending on the circumstances surrounding the rejection of the offer, the employee may be able to claim unfair dismissal.

Claiming unfair dismissals in rejected offers

An employee can claim unfair dismissal in situations where an employer offers an unsuitable job to the employee, deliberately withholding more suitable positions. In general, jobs considered unsuitable are jobs that are:

  • Below the employee’s current position
  • Incompatible with the employee’s skills
  • Offer inadequate compensation.

Our Employment Law Solicitors can assist with all types of claims. Naturally, we pride ourselves on providing the best possible service to the highest standards, we can provide free employment law advice on all problems.

Call us on 0800 756 6605 or 020 3923 4777