A recent decision has provided very helpful guidance on what constitutes an acceptable offer of alternative employment where the position has been made redundant.

In this matter, two employees for a catering service in the Hunter region rejected an offer of alternative employment on the basis that the 25km travelling distance to the new location was too far, making the offer unacceptable. The new location would have offered them employment in similar catering-based roles with the same pay and hours.

The employer applied to the Fair Work Commission (“FWC”) to get an order to vary the obligation to pay redundancy pay to the two workers who refused to be redeployed. FWC affirmed that the employer bears the onus of proving that such an offer is acceptable. The employer submitted that the employees’ contracts provided for such a move and therefore it was entitled to change the location.

The FWC held that the additional travel time to the new location did not constitute an unacceptable offer of alternative employment. The FWC was satisfied that the appropriate travel time to the new location was considerably less than what the employees claimed and did not prevent the offer from being acceptable. The employer’s application to reduce the employees’ redundancy pay to zero was granted.

Spotless Services Australia Limited (2013) FWC 4484

Katrina Li and Chris Tan