The District Court of New South Wales has awarded an employee $150,000 in redundancy pay, as the position he was transferred to had no connection with his skills and experience and was, therefore, not “acceptable alternative employment”.
The employee was a furnace operator with 20 years’ experience who was transferred to a trainee position in the “railway finishing line”. The employee’s pay, hours and place of work didn’t change. However, the employee alleged that he was humiliated by the transfer and unfit for the new job, as he suffered from osteoarthritis. The employee resigned and then claimed redundancy payments under the relevant award.
The District Court held that ”acceptable alternative employment” is to be determined on an objective basis. The new position was not acceptable alternative employment because it involved a change in status and seniority, required different skills and was conducted in another division of the plant. The Court found that the employee’s:
reaction to the change was irrelevant, but could be seen as evidence of relevant objective factors, such as the change in status and seniority; and
health (and capacity to perform the job) were not relevant factors that could be considered.
The Court also doubted there had been an “offer” of alternative employment because the employee had simply been informed that he would be transferred.