All employment lawyers know that orders for reinstatement (getting your old job back) and re-engagement (getting another job with your former employer) are extremely rare. To some extent this has probably become self-fulfilling: everyone knows that these orders are rare, so hardly anyone bothers to apply for them. That is part of the reason they are so rare.
In fact, it is very often a good idea to try for re-employment (employment lawyers tend to use this term to cover reinstatement or re-engagement). There are two main reasons. The first is that it is something that, as a rule, employers really hate. They hate it so much that a credible application for re-employment will often have a marked upwards influence on offers of settlement.
The other reason is that if re-employment is ordered, the claimant is entitled to be compensated in full for all her lost earnings from dismissal to the date of re-employment: the statutory limit does not apply. Where losses to the date of the hearing exceed the statutory limit, therefore, an application for re-employment should always be vigorously pursued unless it is clear that it is hopeless.
Bear in mind that on an order for re-engagement, the tribunal has a wide discretion to order re-engagement on such terms as it considers just. So take the widespread assumption that re-employment is impossible if there has been any significant contributory fault with a large pinch of salt. Where there has been misconduct, for example, but not sufficient to justify dismissal, there is no reason why the tribunal should not order re-engagement to a lower-paid post, or with a disciplinary warning.
Do not rule out re-employment just because it is not practicable for the claimant actually to return to work, either: re-engagement with immediate medical retirement will sometimes be an option worth considering.