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Website URL : http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=4554
Help for small firms

Handling small-scale redundancies - A step-by-step guide

Handling small-scale redundancies - Step 5

Remember notice period rights

Paid time off to look for work/arrange training

Employees who are in their redundancy notice period and would have had at least two years' continuous employment by the time their notice ends have a right to reasonable time off during working hours to look for work or make arrangements for training. Only some of this may have to be paid time off (see below).

Time off could include activities such as:

  • visiting jobcentres and recruitment agencies
  • attending job interviews
  • getting help writing/updating CVs and/or job applications
  • events linked to college, university or apprenticeship enrolment.

While it's likely that a complete refusal for any time off is going to be unlawful, you are expected to take your business needs into account. The length of the notice period, when a request for time off was made, the local employment environment, health and safety requirements and the effect the absence would have on the running of your business are just some factors to consider when you're working out what is and is not reasonable.

Regardless of the amount of time off you allow, you are only statutorily required to pay a maximum amount that is equal to two fifths of one week's pay during the entire notice period.  For example, if Jane earns £250 a week and is in a ten-week redundancy notice period, she would be entitled to a maximum statutory amount of £100 paid time off during her entire notice period under this right. Of course, you can choose to pay more if you wish, or if you have a contractual agreement.

Alternative job offers

You may find you have other work available in your business that you could offer employees selected for redundancy.  There could be advantages when redeploying employees in this way, such as retaining valued staff and their skills, and improving morale.

The positions that are available have to be suitable and reasonable, factoring in:

  • the hours/working pattern
  • the workplace location
  • pay and contractual terms
  • job content and status.

A suitable role needs to be offered within the notice period - before the end of employment and as early as possible. When a new role is offered, employees usually have a statutory trial period of four weeks. The trial period will usually commence as soon as the old contract expires and will end four weeks after that. This trial period is for employee and employer to assess the suitability of the role and is only extended in very specific circumstances.

  • If your employee agrees to a trial and finds the job role suitable and reasonable, they simply continue in the new role and are considered to have accepted this instead of being made redundant. No redundancy pay is due.
  • If your employee agrees to a trial and does not find the job to be suitable and/or reasonable, then you will usually need to treat them as having been dismissed as redundant when their original contract came to an end. This means they should get their original redundancy pay etc.
  • If you think your employee has either unreasonably refused a trial, or trials the role but then rejects it for a reason unrelated to how suitable or reasonable the role is, you may consider the employee to be no longer eligible for a redundancy payment. However, this can result in a claim of Unfair Dismissal if handled wrongly. The Acas Helpline can offer more guidance on this.
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