Redeployment: A Guide for HR Managers & Employers

Almost every organisation will have to make difficult decisions about its employees at one time or another. And while most leaders don’t want to let people go, sometimes redundancy is the only option. 

In some circumstances, employers can avoid redundancy by redeploying employees to a different location or part of the business. The redeployment process is regulated by law, and employers need to be sure they’re following the process correctly to avoid claims for unfair dismissal.

In this post, we’ll discuss how redeployment works and the various factors you need to be aware of if you’re considering redeploying employees to avoid redundancy.

What Is Redeployment? 

Redeployment is when an employer moves an employee from one role to another, often to avoid redundancies. The new job is usually similar to the employee’s old job and generally comes with an equivalent pay grade and level of seniority — although this isn’t always the case.

Exactly what redeployment looks like differs from one organisation to another. For example, some organisations will simply circulate job postings for open roles to employees who are at risk of redundancy, leaving the employees to decide whether to apply. 

These employees are generally given priority over other internal or external candidates to give the company the best chance of redeploying them and avoiding redundancies.

When Does Redeployment Apply? 

Companies can redeploy employees for various reasons, but it’s most common when they’re at risk of redundancy. This might be because the company's needs have changed or because they’re overstaffed in a particular department. In these cases, employers have a legal obligation to suggest a suitable alternative role to employees who would otherwise be made redundant (if one is available).

For example, imagine that an employee is responsible for marketing a particular product. If the company stops making that product, the marketer would be at risk of redundancy. To avoid this, the employer could offer them an alternative role on a different marketing team within the company, with the same pay grade and a similar level of seniority. 

What Is Suitable Alternative Employment? 

If you want to avoid redundancy by redeploying an employee, you must offer them ‘suitable alternative employment’. This is usually a key part of a company’s redundancy procedure. If the employee has not been offered suitable alternative employment even though there is a position available, this could lead to disputes or even a claim for unfair dismissal. 

The employee is not obliged to accept the new position, but they may lose their right to redundancy pay if they are offered a suitable alternative and they refuse it unreasonably. 

Whether or not a role is a suitable alternative employment depends on a number of factors, including its similarity to the employee’s current position in terms of duties, pay, location, benefits and seniority. For example, an alternative role in a different city that would require the employee to relocate or significantly increase their travel time would probably not be a suitable alternative — and the employee would be justified in refusing the offer. In this case, they would likely still be entitled to redundancy pay. 

However, it’s important to avoid making assumptions about the types of roles an employee might accept. There’s nothing wrong with informing an employee about a role at a different location or a lower pay grade — just be aware that they may not accept it. 

What Is the Trial Period? 

Redeployed employees are usually entitled to a four-week trial period in their new role. This allows them to test out the new position and make sure it suits them. If they reject the role during their trial period, their employment rights are not affected, and if their rejection is reasonable, they will still be entitled to redundancy pay. However, if their refusal is unreasonable, they may lose this right. 

The 4 Steps of the Redeployment Process

The redeployment process looks slightly different in every company, but here are the stages it usually involves: 

1. A Redundancy Process Is Started, Or an Employee Is At Risk of Redundancy

If a company has surplus staff in one area of the business, or if certain roles are no longer required, employees might be made redundant. The process for redeployment can begin once an employee has been informed about their upcoming redundancy, or when their employer has identified them as at risk of redundancy. 

2. The Employer Offers a Suitable Alternative Employment and the Employee Accepts

To avoid redundancy, the employer can offer the employee suitable alternative employment within the business. Exactly how this works depends on the company. In some organisations, opportunities are circulated to employees by email, while in others, the employee’s manager may speak with other hiring managers in the business and approach the employee directly with any relevant offers. 

The employee can then choose whether to accept or reject the offer. If they reject the offer unreasonably, they may lose their right to redundancy pay. 

3. The Employee Begins a 4-Week Trial Period In the New Role 

Once an employee accepts an alternative role and their current position ends, they can begin a four-week trial period in the new role. 

4. The Trial Period Ends, and the Redeployment Is Confirmed

If the employee rejects the offer during the trial period, they might be made redundant. They may still be entitled to redundancy pay if their rejection is justified — for example, if the new role is at a different location or offers a lower pay package. 

However, if everything works out for both parties, the employee will continue in their new role once the trial period is over. 

Defining Your Redeployment Strategy

It’s not legally necessary for an employer to have a redeployment policy, but having one in place can help you to ensure the process is clear to all parties. The policy could be part of your redundancy policy and should include: 

  • The conditions that need to be met for the employer to redeploy an employee, including in the case of redundancy

  • The employer’s obligation to find a suitable alternative role before making an employee redundant

  • The employee’s obligation to consider any suitable alternatives offered to them by their employer

  • The effect on the employee’s rights that refusing such a role would result in, including losing the right to statutory redundancy pay

Having a redundancy policy in place won’t necessarily prevent claims of unfair dismissal, but it can help to provide consistency across the organisation and ensure that everyone knows what their rights and responsibilities are. 

It’s also a good idea to document any alternative roles offered to employees and their responses. Keeping written records of this can help you to establish that you gave the employee enough information and time to make an informed decision if there is a dispute in the future. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Redeployment

Here are the answers to some FAQs about redeployment in the case of potential redundancies: 

What Does Redeployment Mean? 

Redeployment is when an employee is moved from one role to another within the same organisation, often as an alternative to redundancy.

Is Redeployment a Good Thing? 

Redeployment allows employers to avoid redundancies, which is generally a good thing for both parties. As long as the employee is happy with the alternative role offered, this saves the company the cost of redundancy pay and means that the employee isn’t left without a job. 

Can an Employee Refuse a Redeployment? 

An employee can always refuse a redeployment, but this could mean they lose the right to statutory redundancy pay if their reasons for refusing are insufficient. This should be clearly outlined in your redeployment policy. 

What Is a Redeployment Policy? 

A redeployment policy is a document that lays out the terms and conditions of redeployment and the rights and responsibilities of both the employer and their employees. It could be a part of your redundancy policy or a separate document. 

Simplify Document Management With Personio

Creating policies for redundancies, redeployment and other HR processes can be a time-consuming and repetitive process. With Personio, you can generate HR documents in no time and import employee-specific data directly from the platform — then save your template to use again later. 

Want to learn more? Book a demo with a member of our team to find out how Personio could simplify your HR tasks.  

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