In a redundancy situation, can an employee refuse an offer of suitable alternative employment?

An employer cannot force an employee to accept an offer of alternative employment. However, the employee will not be entitled to a statutory redundancy payment if he or she unreasonably refuses an offer of suitable alternative employment.

Entitlement to a redundancy payment is lost if the offer to renew the employee's contract or re-engage him or her under a new contract is made before the end of the employment, with the renewal or re-engagement to take effect on the termination of the contract or within four weeks of it, and the provisions of the new or renewed contract of employment are the same as those of the original contract, or if they differ the offer is still one of suitable alternative employment.

The right to a redundancy payment will also be lost if the employee undertakes a trial period in the new job, the employment is suitable in relation to the employee, but he or she unreasonably terminates it during the trial period.

The test to determine if the offer of alternative employment is suitable is an objective test, but the test of whether or not any rejection of the offer of alternative employment by the employee was reasonable is a subjective one, and the circumstances of the particular employee must be considered.