Can we retract a redundancy notice if things change?


Can we retract a redundancy notice if things change?

Can we retract a redundancy notice if circumstances change?


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Can we retract a redundancy notice if circumstances change?
This question was recently sent to our Ask an Expert service.

Q Our organisation receives funding from the federal government. Our current funding arrangement expires on 30 June 2014. While the grapevine suggests funding for the next financial year will be forthcoming, it will be a lesser amount and with different conditions attached.
At this stage, we have told employees of the situation and indicated some positions may become redundant if the level of funding is decreased. We intend to give affected employees 4 weeks’ notice of termination.
If the funding cut is not as much as anticipated, and an employee has already been notified of the position becoming redundant, can the company withdraw the notice of redundancy or does the original decision stand?

A Industrial courts and tribunals have generally determined that notice of termination of employment, once given by an employer, cannot be withdrawn, except with the agreement of the employee. The reason for this is an employee may have already obtained employment with another employer, with the result that if an employer could unilaterally withdraw notice, the employee could be bound by two concurrent contracts of employment.

The same logic applies to the withdrawal of notice by an employee. The requirement for an employee to give the appropriate period of notice is to allow the employer sufficient time to fill the position. If the employee could withdraw notice at any time it could result in the replacement employee being left without a job, having already terminated their employment with the previous employer to accept the vacated position.
An exception to this is where the mental state of the employee at the time of the resignation meant the giving of notice was not considered a voluntary act, although this is obviously not a consideration in this case.

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