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Getting It Right: Redundancies - Time Off to Look for Work or Arrange Work-Related Training

Getting It Right: Redundancies - Time Off to Look for Work or Arrange Work-Related Training
Richard Hiron Jan 12,2021
blog post

If preserving the goodwill of your business has not entered into your plan for potentially making redundancies, then it should.

Former employees are one of the best means of preserving the goodwill of your business but, if they leave in circumstances that they feel are unfair or which could have been handled better, then they are far less likely to recommend you to potential customers in the future.

Being involved in the redundancy process may not feel like much to an employee, as it is purely the employer's legal duty to follow a fair process, whether that arises from an employee's length of service (although some employers will choose to apply their redudnancy consultation processes to employees with less than two years' continuous service as well) or from the need to avoid automatically unfair and discriminatory reasons for selecting employees for redundancy.

Therefore, giving an employee reasonable time off to obtain another job or to undertake work-related training so that they can obtain future employment helps to show that you actually care about them, whilst preserving the interests of your business.

Some employers may do this as part of their standard procedure but, if they choose not to, there is a statutory scheme that requires it, provided that the employee requesting reasonable paid time off:-

 

1. Has received notice that their employment will be terminated by reason of redundancy;

2. Has or will have two years’ continuous employment with the employer on the later of:-

(a) the date when the notice of termination of their employment expires; or

(b) the date when the notice of termination of their employment would have expired; and

3. Is requesting the time off to:

(a) look for new employment; or

(b) arrange training for future employment.

 

Ideally, an employee should notify the employer in advance that they wish to take time off to look for new employment or arrange training for future employment.

However, the sticking point for many employers is how much time off is “reasonable” for these purposes. In usual day-to-day situations, the employer may be able to be quite flexible but, in more complex scenarios, it may be necessary for the employer to work this out and document it with reference to:-

 

  • The employee’s contract of employment and/or the employer's redundancy policy;
  • What impact the employee’s absence might have on the business;
  • How long the employee’s notice period is; and
  • What the jobs market is like in the local area or, where the employee lives a significant distance away from the workplace, in the employee’s local area.

 

If a request for time off has to be declined, then the above exercise may be of great benefit to an employer in justifying why the request could not be accepted. However, an employer would do well not to make a habit of declining such requests if it can avoid doing so.

Some employers also provide access to outplacement services, which provide practical assistance to employees on matters such as drafting CVs and covering letters, mastering interview tehniques, reviewing their career to date and helping them to understand what they want from their career.

Lastly, an employee still has the right to be paid when they are taking time off to search for work or to arrange work-related training, although this will be pro-rated up to a cap of 40% of a week’s pay even if, in truth, they have taken more than that time off. However, this is subject to any enhancements that may be provided for in the employee’s contract of employment and/or in the employer’s redundancy policy.

This article is intended for information purposes only and not as a substitute for legal advice. TP Legal does not accept any responsibility for any decisions that you may make as a result of reading this article.