A recent Court of Appeal decision highlights that the question of whether an employee's refusal of suitable alternative employment is reasonable will depend on the circumstances of the particular employee. The decision also underlines the importance, when considering a particular employee's reasons for refusal, of identifying what those reasons were and what relative weight they had in the employee's decision-making process.
The court held that an employment tribunal had made an error in finding the refusal of suitable alternative employment by a potentially redundant employee to be unreasonable. In this case, the employee had spent 30 years working as a community nurse and it was therefore considered reasonable for her to refuse suitable alternative work in a hospital. The tribunal had also failed to address the relevance of the employee's intention to emigrate and whether her preference for taking redundancy benefits had clouded her assessment of the job offer.
If a business is making redundancies, it has a duty to look for alternative employment for any potentially redundant employees. A dismissal is likely to be unfair if, at the time of the dismissal, the business fails to consider whether any suitable alternative employment exists.
For advice on employment law issues, please contact Neil Largan on 01904 624185 or John Broadbridge on 01653 600070.