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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, Solicitor
Category: UK Employment Law
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Experience:  Expert in UK Employment Law
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Should I be slotted?

Resolved Question:

Hi Ben,

My employer is restructuring and has placed me at risk of redundancy in a pool of two. The new job we must apply for has almost the same title as my current role, pays exactly the same and manages the same number of staff. My existing department has 13 staff, of which two will have to lose their jobs, whilst two other employees will join the department, making it back up to 13. The two new roles are concerned with managing the company intranet. The rest of the department is responsible for student records, exams administration, curriculum planning and management information. - it is a college in London.

I have a bell ringing in my head that if the new role is less than 25% different from the existing one (which it demonstrably is), I should be slotted. Is this true?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: UK Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Is there a policy on slotting in your workplace?

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Hello, I understand you had problems viewing chat so have closed the chat window. can you please let me know if there is a policy on slotting in your workplace?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
For Ben Jones
Hi,
I checked yesterday and the college does not have a slotting policy. So where does that leave me?

Rgds
Jim
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Hello Jim, there is no law that says an employee at risk of redundancy has to be slotted into a position depending on what percentage it makes up of their current job.

However, when a redundancy situation arises, an employer has a duty to consider and offer the affected employees any suitable alternative employment (“SAE”) that may exist at the time. The objective is to keep the employee in employment rather than make them redundant.

If an employee accepts an offer of SAE, their employment will continue in the new position and they would lose their entitlement to a redundancy payment.

If the offer is considered unsuitable and the employee refuses it, they will still keep their entitlement to redundancy pay. However, if an offer of SAE has been made and the employee unreasonably refuses it, they would lose their entitlement to redundancy pay.

The factors that would usually make an offer unsuitable or a refusal reasonable are as follows:
• Job content and status – e.g. drop in status or level, substantial differences in duties, etc.;
• Pay and other benefits – e.g. significant drop in earnings, including basic pay, bonuses, overtime, sick pay, holiday entitlement, etc.;
• Working hours – e.g. change in shift pattern, removal of overtime, extension/reduction of working hours;
• Change of workplace – e.g. if a place of work changes and the employee’s personal circumstances make it unreasonable for them to travel to their new place of work.
• Job prospects – e.g. going from permanent to temporary work, changing to being self-employed or being employed on a fixed-term contract.

If the employer makes an offer of alternative employment, where the terms and conditions differ from their current ones, the employee has the right to a 4-week trial period in that job, which can be extended by mutual consent. If during or immediately after the trial period they decide against taking the job then they should tell their employer straight away. This will not affect their employment rights, including their right to receive statutory redundancy pay.

So if a SAE position exists, you should be offered this and be allowed to decide if it is suitable or not.

I hope this has answered your query and would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating. Your question will not close and I can continue providing further advice if necessary. Thank you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Ben,
There is no issue about SAE in this case. My feeling is that I have been inappropriately pooled with someone, whose job has been removed from the structure. The decision to pool her with me is a discriminatory contrivance.

Her department has been split into two, - with two people joining my department and seven joining another. The other department now consists of (at most) eight original staff plus the seven, effectively doubling the size of the department. The two functional areas are Facilities and Computer Services. The Head of Facilities has not been pooled despite being no more qualified to manage Computer Services, than my female colleague is to manage Facilities (the building maintenance, reprographics, post room). It seems clear that they have an equal candidacy for the new leadership role. The Head of Facilities is however set to inherit this new, double sized department however without issue.

She has instead been pooled with me, and I must compete with her for the leadership of a department which will consist of eleven from my current department plus just two from hers. To add insult to injury, the title of the job changes from Director of Information and Planning to Director of Information and Planning Services.

I'm at a loss as to how they think that can either fair or appropriate, and I am amazed that it can be legal.

I'm left wondering what is to stop an employer adding or removing a tea boy to a department, and then arguing that the manager's job description has changed, and must therefore reapply for their position.

Rgds

Jim
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Hello Jim, this is not an issue about slotting rather one of potential unfair selection for redundancy. What appears t have happened here is that the employer has restructured and certain employees have been moved across to other departments. If as a result of the restructure the employer still needs to reduce headcount then it is possible for them to include employees that were not part of the original restructure.

As mentioned, the Employment Rights Act 1996 defines a redundancy situation as falling within one of the following circumstances:

1. Business closure – where the whole of the employer’s business is closed
2. Workplace closure – closure or relocation of one or more sites
3. Diminished requirement for employees to carry out work of a particular kind.

Whilst the first two reasons are self-explanatory, it is the third reason that will be used most commonly and also the one that brings the most challenges.

Examples of when there is a diminishing responsibility to do work of a particular kind are:
• There is the same amount of a particular kind of work but fewer employees are needed to do it. This would generally be seen as the "classic" situation in which the employer decides to make better use of its resources. This will also include consolidating some of its jobs (e.g. spreading out the work that is affected amongst existing employees). This is where many employees get confused as they believe a job has to disappear for them to be made redundant, however that is certainly not the case.
• There is less work of a particular kind and fewer employees are needed to do it (both the work and the headcount shrink)
• There is less work of a particular kind, but the same number of employees are required overall.

The issue then is that when a redundancy situation exists, there is a legal obligation on an employer to ensure that those employees who are made redundant have been fairly selected. This basically means that the employer should use a fair and objective way for selection.

The first step is identifying the pool of employees from which the selection will be made. Often that could be a particular job, a department, even a whole office. The employer only has to show that its choice of pool was within the range of reasonable responses.

The general rules state that when deciding on the choice of pool, the employer should start by considering two questions:
• Which particular kind of work is disappearing?
• Which employees perform the particular kind of work which is disappearing?

Once the pool has been established the employer has to decide how to select those employees from it, which are to be made redundant. There are various ways of doing this and the more commonly used methods are:
• Scoring matrix based on different criteria (e.g. disciplinary record, attendance record, length of service, performance, etc.)
• Asking employees to re-apply for their jobs, or for any newly created jobs, with the unsuccessful ones being made redundant

Whichever method is going to be used, the employer must apply it fairly and objectively.

I hope this clarifies a bit more for you and I would be grateful if you could please quickly rate my answer - it only takes a second to do. I can then continue providing further advice and answer follow up questions if needed. Thank you.
Ben Jones, Solicitor
Satisfied Customers: 38526
Experience: Expert in UK Employment Law
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