Everyone knows about the four-week trial period in redundancy cases, but cases about the statutory scheme do not come up that often. A recent decision of the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) involving a dental practice manager is a much-needed reminder of a key feature of the scheme.
The four-week trial period applies where the old job is made redundant, but the employee is offered and accepts an alternative job that is different. In broad terms the trial period allows the employee to try out the new job without prejudicing entitlement to a redundancy payment, provided that notice to terminate the new contract of employment is given before the end of the trial period.
In this case the employee accepted an offer of alternative employment but failed to resign within the four-week period, mainly because she was waiting for an assurance from her employer that she would still be entitled to a redundancy payment if she did so. The EAT said that, whatever the reason for failing to resign in time, the fact that she had not done so meant that the statutory conditions had not been met and she was not entitled to a statutory redundancy payment. Her argument that she could rely on a more flexible "common law trial period" to preserve her redundancy entitlement was rejected.