A recent case dealt with the obligations on an employer when making redundancies to try and redeploy “at risk” staff into “suitable alternative employment”. What does this mean though? In most consultation processes very little effort is often expended by the employer into fulfilling its obligations.
It now seems clear that ANY suitable alternative employment in the employer’s group should first be offered to an “at risk” employee before it is offered to any not-at-risk employees. Employers will inevitably argue that job x was not suitable and there will then need to follow an analysis of just how suitable or otherwise the “at-risk” employee was. It should not matter that there was a better not-at-risk candidate. Furthermore, the issue of retraining might arise and the employer could find themselves in difficulty if it failed to recognise this. For instance, an Equities Analyst covering Europe could surely move across to cover North America, if such a vacancy existed? It doesn’t seem to happen.
The upshot of this is that “at risk” employees should be preferred above all other candidates when consideration is given to filling internal vacancies. For pregnant “at risk” employees they also have an added layer of protection because she has the right to be automatically offered any suitable and appropriate vacancy.