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HR manager refused lower-level job and relocation

HR manager who refused to relocate was genuinely made redundant.
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HR manager refused lower-level job and relocation

HR manager refused lower-level job and relocation

16 June 2020

By Mike Toten

An HR manager who refused to relocate from Newcastle NSW when his employer merged with another corporation was genuinely made redundant, not dismissed, according to the Fair Work Commission.

There were no problems with his job performance and the merger meant that the employer no longer required his job to be performed in Newcastle.

Facts of case

The employee had worked for a large nation-wide motoring group for about 15 years and was the HR manager, based at Newcastle. When his employer merged with another motoring group, his job was one of more than 60 identified as redundant.

Initially the employer offered him the job of people and safety partner (later changed to HR business partner) on a lower salary (about 20%), but he rejected it, claiming that the job was identical except for its title and lower pay.

The FWC noted that there were many similarities in the two jobs, but accepted the employer’s view that the former job was a significantly more senior one, and therefore the employer no longer required anyone to perform the job of HR manager at Newcastle. The former job had greater decision-making power and autonomy, and the new one had no-one else reporting to it and was more “transactional” than policy-making in nature. There was evidence that the overall HR function workload at Newcastle was reduced, and some of its functions (eg payroll) had been transferred elsewhere.

Regarding redeployment, there was evidence “on the balance of probabilities” that the employee had said he was not willing to relocate away from Newcastle (although the employee disputed this). Therefore, the FWC did not further evaluate the employer’s consideration of redeployment opportunities. The employer had offered the lower-level HR business partner job after claiming it was unable to find a vacancy equivalent to his former job elsewhere in the organisation.

There was also evidence that the employee was aware of several vacancies in the organisation outside Newcastle, but he did not follow up on any of them.


The fact that the position of HR manager (Newcastle) no longer existed and the evidence that the employee had said that he would not move away from Newcastle meant that a genuine redundancy had occurred. The lower-paid job offered to him was not an appropriate redeployment.

The bottom line: The test is whether the job performed by the employee has survived a restructure, not whether its duties have survived in some form. Those duties can be reallocated to other employees and a redundancy of the original job will still have occurred. The onus is on the employer to prove that a job is redundant.

Read the judgment

Williamson v AHG Newcastle Pty Ltd t/a AP Eagers [2020] FWC 2929, 4 June 2020

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