Key Learnings

This case highlights that even when alternative roles are offered to employees during times of business restructuring, employees are not obligated to a accept role that is not considered reasonable to the employee.  In this case, the claimant’s grounds for considering the offer of the role unreasonable was not due to a change in location, salary, or seniority-level of the job but rather that the new role offered did not fit in with the claimant’s career plans. It was considered therefore reasonable for the employee to refuse the alternative role and be entitled to payment of redundancy.


The complainant outlined that she was made redundant in April 2020 but did not receive the redundancy payment. She outlined that the offer of an alternative role made by the respondent was not suitable for her career plans. She did not accept this offer.

Summary of Complainant’s Case

The complainant outlined that she began employment with the respondent on 26th September 2016, and her role ended on the 24th April 2020. She was first an accounts payable administrator, then an accounts payable specialist and lastly, an accounts payable business analyst. Due to the pandemic, the company she worked for was restructured, and the accounts payable department moved to the US.

Some of her colleagues in accounts payable were offered roles in a procurement department while others were made redundant.

The complainant was offered a role in the procurement department of the organisation. The complainant said that the offer was for the procurement operations analyst role, which was a completely different role from her accounts payable one, working with different stakeholders on completely different tasks. She had always worked in the accounts payable area and had a great deal of specialisation in this area. She was not interested in the proposed role. She had put a lot of work into her specialisation in accounts payable and felt she would have to do it all again in procurement.

The complainant said that she was not offered an extension to her current role even though others were retained because of the pandemic. She agreed that she was a good fit for the alternative role in procurement, but that the role was not a good fit for her.

Summary of Respondent’s Case

The respondent outlined that there has been significant restructuring to the business caused by the pandemic. In this case, the accounts payable department moved to the US and the procurement function was consolidated in Dublin.

The consolidation placed eight roles at risk and there was a consultation process with all staff including the complainant. The respondent held five meetings with the complainant and an alternative role was offered to the complainant as a business analyst, working in procurement.

The complainant’s place of work, salary and benefits were to remain the same. The respondent believed it was unreasonable for the complainant to decline the role as there was a significant cross-over of the skills required for the role and an overlap in duties. The respondent was of the opinion that the offered role was more advantageous as it was in a larger team with more opportunities for progression.

The respondent argued that the procurement roles continued despite the pandemic, so the role clearly had a future, and believed the complainant’s refusal of the role was unreasonable.

Findings and Conclusions

This complaint relates to the Redundancy Payments Act. The complainant worked in the accounts payable department, and this role effectively moved from Dublin to another location. The complainant outlined that she was offered a completely different role in procurement, with different processes and stakeholders. The respondent outlined that the alternative role was reasonable and meant that the complainant could not assert that she had been made redundant.

Section 15 (2) of the Redundancy Payments Act provides:
(2) An employee shall not be entitled to a redundancy payment if —
(a) his employer has made to him in writing an offer to renew the employee’s contract of employment or to re-engage him under a new contract of employment,
(b) the provisions of the contract as renewed, or of the new contract, as to the capacity and place in which he would be employed and as to the other terms and conditions of his employment would differ wholly or in part from the corresponding provisions of his contract in force immediately before the termination of his contract,
(c) the offer constitutes an offer of suitable employment in relation to the employee,
(d) the renewal or re-engagement would take effect not later than four weeks after the date of the termination of his contract, and
(e) he has unreasonably refused the offer.

The suitability of the alternative employment is generally viewed objectively, while the reasonableness of the employee’s decision to decline is subjective and depends on factors personal to them. In this case, the offer of the alternative role in procurement, based at the same location and with the same terms and conditions was clearly a suitable offer for this employee. The question is whether it was unreasonable for the complainant to turn it down. The complainant’s reasoning was that she had accomplished a huge amount of work in accounts payable and would have to do the same again in procurement. The most striking part of the complainant’s evidence was her statement that she was a good fit for the respondent because she worked hard, but the new role would not be a good fit for her.

This is a factor personal to the complainant and viewed from her point of view, it was reasonable for her to turn down the new role in procurement. Given that the complainant did not unreasonably refuse the offer of alternative employment, the adjudicator noted that section 15(2) of the Act did not apply, and that the complainant was therefore entitled to a redundancy lump sum payment.


The decision to uphold the complaint resulted in the recommendation that the complainant was entitled to a redundancy lump sum payment pursuant to the Redundancy Payments Act.