There has been a reorganisation at work. Can I be forced to apply for my own job?

It is not unusual for workers caught up in a reorganisation to find themselves being expected to apply for a job that looks the same – or at least remarkably similar – to their existing role.

Ending your employment contract is a dismissal, even if you are simultaneously offered the chance to apply for a new job very similar to your old one.

Whether or not that dismissal is fair will always depend on a range of different factors, and you should take advice and discuss the situation with your trade union rep if you have one.

It is important to be realistic when contemplating an employment tribunal claim for unfair dismissal (assuming you qualify). Taking this kind of step, especially in the context of a redundancy restructuring, is usually a 'high risk–low reward' strategy.

In particular, your employer is likely to win if they can satisfy the tribunal that they had a 'sound business reason' for the reorganisation. And even if you win, employment tribunal awards are not generous. The median unfair dismissal award in 2017-18 was just £8,015.

If there are fewer jobs on offer in the restructured organisation, so that you are competing with colleagues for your old role, this will be a redundancy situation. See our Redundancy section for more information.

It is much easier to find a new job if you are still employed, so it is likely to be a good idea to participate fully in the reorganisation process, even if you plan to leave soon afterwards. If you are not successful, you should be paid a redundancy payment as long as you have two years’ service.

Remember that any large-scale reorganisation is likely to trigger statutory duties to consult collectively. Where a union is recognised, this consultation should be with your union. Challenges to a reorganisation are more likely to be successful if they are organised collectively, while the restructuring is still ongoing and there is still a chance to influence the process.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.

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