The employee rejected both positions due to significant additional travel time and lower remuneration.
News 21 January 2021

Fair Work and employee both reject business’ redeployment offers

The Fair Work Commission has rejected an employer’s application to reduce redundancy pay, stating redeployment offers would have resulted in more travel and less pay, therefore unacceptable.

A project-based company that supplies labour hire and hydraulic services had an employee who commenced as a light vehicle mechanic in January 2017. The employee was later promoted to Workshop Supervisor and then transferred to a coal mine location in May 2019.

In September 2020, the employee was notified the coal mine no longer needed his services. Numerous discussions were held between the business and employee regarding redeployment opportunities and two positions were offered: a Service Mechanic role in Tomingley and a Light Vehicle Mechanic/Serviceman role in Dubbo.

The employee rejected both positions due to significant additional travel time and lower remuneration.

On 7 October 2020, the employee was retrenched, and his employment terminated. When notifying the employee, the business advised they would be making an application to the Fair Work Commission to reduce his redundancy pay to nil as they considered he had been offered reasonable redeployment.

The decision

The Fair Work Commission (“Commission”) was satisfied the employee’s former role was redundant.

When considering whether the positions offered were acceptable alternatives, the Commission concluded that neither position was acceptable as the Tomingley position required an additional three hours of travel and the Dubbo position required an additional one hour of travel.

The Commission did not consider that alone was excessive given the nature of the business and rural location, however, the Dubbo role would result in the employee losing 15% of his income. Consequently, the Commission considered the Dubbo role was also not a reasonable redeployment option

The Commission did take note of the employee’s family responsibilities as both positions would have required him to be away from home for a significant period of time, reducing the time spent with his children.

Ultimately, the Commission dismissed the application.

Learning for business

When considering redeployment opportunities, businesses need to take into consideration a range of factors including the type of work and level of pay as well as the employee’s personal circumstances such as location and family commitments.

Business also need to be aware of the terms and conditions included in their industrial instrument and that the suitability of alternative employment may be scrutinised.

How we can help

It is important for businesses to follow a fair process when making a role redundant. Our experienced consultants at the Victorian Chamber can support business in representing and advocating for members to assist in negotiating in the Fair Work Commission proceedings.

The Workplace Relations Advice Line offers general advice on a range of workplace issues, including:

  • Award interpretation, classification and minimum entitlements
  • Disciplinary processes, performance management and termination
  • Personal illness and injury
  • Parental leave and flexible working arrangements
  • Redundancy
  • Occupational Health and Safety and WorkCover

For assistance on any aspect of your employment obligations, please call the Victorian Chamber Workplace Relations Advice Line on 8662 5222

[2020] FWC 6161

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