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Redundancy: Suitable Alternative Employment

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Thanks to Vanessa James of SA Law for preparing this case summary

The Court of Appeal in the case of Devon Primary Care Trust v Redman addressed the test for whether an employee was being reasonable in refusing what would appear to be a suitable alternative to redundancy and, in doing so, whether they forfeited the right to redundancy pay. 

It stated the test is not to "import" the band of reasonable responses test applied in unfair dismissal cases, but is instead consider "whether this particular employee in this particular situation acted reasonably in refusing the offer of employment". 

Although this case reinforced a test that has been around a while, it will be of concern to employers where there is an incentive to redundancy over redeployment, such as NHS, local government, or where there is long service. 

This decision seems to support the trend for employees having fairly subjective grounds for refusing alternative employment which will make restructures (particularly in the NHS and local government) more expensive and challenging than perhaps first thought.