Q A few months ago it looked like we would lose some important orders so we went through a redundancy exercise. This resulted in us giving notice to two employees that they were being made redundant. We have now obtained new order contracts which means we need the two employees to stay.
A Once notice has been given to terminate the contract of employment there is no right to unilaterally withdraw it without agreement.
Hopefully you will be able to agree with the employees that the notice can be withdrawn and the employment can continue as normal. However if the employees refuse to agree and insist the notice stands you should formally offer them their old jobs back and inform them you will dispute their entitlement to a statutory redundancy pay should they refuse to accept.
If an employee unreasonably refuses an offer to renew their contract of employment immediately at the date of termination or within four weeks following the termination date they will not be entitled to a statutory redundancy payment provided that the offer is made whilst the employment is still continuing.
If an employee has left and you wish them to return there is no right to insist the redundancy money is repaid, though the employee may repay the monies voluntarily on the grounds that they retain their continuity of service.
Most frequently the employee's willingness to accept the offer of renewal or to return to work will depend on whether they have obtained other employment. This may have an impact on whether their refusal is seen as reasonable. In assessing reasonableness all the circumstances will need to be taken into account.
Kerstie Skeaping, Halliwells LLP Solicitors, 100 Old Hall Street, Liverpool L3 9TD. Ring 0870 365 9842, fax 0870 365 8004 or e-mail Kerstie.Skeaping@halliwells.com