Duncan Lewis

Does my Employer Have a Right to Make me Work From Another Location in a Large City?

Date: (9 September 2011)    |    

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Duncan Lewis:It is often the case that a company has to relocate itself, either to another part of the country or somewhere else within the same city, to reduce its overheads and costs or to merge with some other company. In such cases the employees of the company have obligations and rights under employment law and don’t simply have to choose between being swept off to a new location or losing their jobs. Solicitors such as Duncan Lewis frequently handle cases where disputes arise over relocation.

When faced with such a relocation situation, the first step is to take a good look at your contract and your terms of employment. A mobility clause is often built into employment contracts, stating that if the company moves then, within certain limits, you will have to move with it. If a move is outrageous, such as you being told that you have to move to a foreign country next week, this cannot be defended; however, the contract usually allows an employer to effectively force its employees to relocate to areas allowed by the terms of the contract’s mobility clause.

There are various reasons why an employee may not wish to relocate to another area. The increased costs of travel and time spent commuting is a common cause for concern, as is children’s education arrangements. If the distance is great and transport is not all that it should be, buying a new property may be an option; however, this may not be affordable in the new area.

You can stay put if your contract of employment does not contain a mobility clause and the proposed move is greater than a reasonably short distance. In this case, the employer has the option of making you redundant rather than simply firing you for breach of contract, and you will receive some compensation as well as retaining a clean CV.

Redundancy will ensue if your job at the current location ceases to exist once the company moves, or there is an offer of an alternative position but you decide to turn it down as unsuitable. The actual amount of redundancy you subsequently receive will be determined by your time with the firm, amongst other factors. To receive any compensation at all, however, the key issue will be whether you were being ‘reasonable’ in refusing the offer of another post. This is largely a subjective matter because there is no fixed definition of a ‘reasonable’ distance. If the company has moved just a few miles away but the journey is difficult it may be deemed reasonable to refuse; if the journey is longer but commuting is easy then it could be deemed unreasonable to refuse to take the offer up.

If you are made redundant when you refuse to take up an offer for alternative employment at the new location and you feel this to be unfair, you can always make a claim for unfair dismissal through employment solicitors.