If you are making someone redundant, do you have to give them paid time off to look for a new job?
When faced with redundancy, employees will be taking active steps to look for a new opportunity – visiting the job centre, seeing recruitment agencies, looking at study courses, rewriting their CV, filling out countless application forms and attending job interviews.
The key questions for the employer are: can they take time off work to look for a new job and do they need to be paid for it?
The nature of the right
The law allows them to take reasonable time off during working hours to look for a new job or make arrangements for training for future opportunities.
This applies to employees who have been given notice of redundancy and who have worked for you for at least two continuous years by the date their notice expires.
The law says that they are allowed reasonable time off, but it does not provide a definition of “reasonable”. It will depend on the individual circumstances of the case.
An Employment Tribunal will consider the needs of the employer and the interest of the employee to find work. They will look at the effect that the absence would have on the business, the duration of the employee’s notice period, how much notice they have given you of their intention to take time off and how hard it will be for the employee to find another job.
In an ideal world, the employee will give you advance notice and provide details about how they intend to use the time off.
No matter how much time the employer gives off, the employee will only be entitled by law to be paid 40% of a week’s pay.
For example, if an employee works five days a week and takes three days off during the notice period, the employer will only have to pay for the first 2 days. The employee can take unpaid leave or annual leave to cover the other days, or there may be a contractual agreement in place which specifies more generous payments.
The employer cannot unreasonably refuse to time off. If you do unreasonably refuse or do not pay them for the time off, they can bring a claim against you in an Employment Tribunal.
However, the purpose of the right is to look for work or make arrangements for training for future opportunities. If the employer has a well-founded suspicion that the employee is being dishonest about the true purposes of the time off, it may be reasonable to refuse.
For further advice on this topic, give our Employment Law Advisers a call.