What is the reasonable distance for relocation

An employer can decide to relocate for many reasons. Most of which are beneficial to the company. For example, if the company is not in a strategic position, if the company is merging with another company, or moving to an industrial location.

Whatever the relocation reason is, the legislation does not define the reasonable distance for relocation; however, it can be stated in the contract of employment under the mobility clause. The mobility clause indicates the limits within which you can work, and if an employee can relocate to a different country.

What is the mobility clause

What is a mobility clause? It is a provision in an employment contract showing that the employer might require an employee to move to a new location temporarily or on a permanent basis. Despite the clause being included, employers need to implement it reasonably. Reasonably meaning they have put into consideration how the clause will affect each employee.

Can my employer change my place of work?

In most cases, yes. Most employment contracts have a mobility clause and this gives the employer the power to force their employees to relocate. Employers are supposed to give an early office relocation notice to employees.

Knowing how to project manage an office move is important in any office setup in the sense that it plays a crucial role in ensuring a smooth transition in the relocation process.

Basics such as getting the right commercial removals in London, knowing how to deliver the information in the right manner and at the right time will save the company a lot of resources.

Communicating to your staff before arriving at the relocation decision gives them enough time to process the information and prepare accordingly. This way, they can decide if the move is reasonable or not. If it is deemed unreasonable, then the employee can refuse to move. Some of the reasons that can make relocation unreasonable are:

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  • Short relocation notice – requiring employees to relocate within three days of notice.
  • The relocation process will interfere with the employee’s family life. Employee may live with the elderly person that they are responsible for.
  • It will affect their children and their current childcare arrangements. For example, if moving locations would mean a change of schools in the middle of a term etc.
  • It would increase the commute time and travel costs significantly. In cases where the moving would impact your commute time, a reasonable employer would step in, offering advice on the available alternatives as well as any financial benefits.
  • They cannot afford a home in the new workplace location.

With all the above justifying an employee refusing to move, it leads to the rise of a redundancy situation. Redundancy is where an employer terminates the employment contract because the employee no longer adds value to them.

In cases where the employee can prove that the relocation terms were unreasonable, they are eligible for a redundancy payment. They need to show that their dismissal was on unfair terms.

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How can you do that?

  •  Having worked with the relocating employee for more than 2 years. 
  • Genuine reasons are showing that the relocation rendered the employee redundant. 
  • They haven’t refused an offer to work.

In such cases, the employee is eligible to request redundancy payment as per employment law.

When an employee refuses to move, they should let their employer know as soon as possible for the employer to re-look into their office move project plan again. Some of these include paying for the employee’s transport services, covering the moving cost to the new location, etc. 

If an employee refuses to relocate because of unreasonable causes, they can be terminated because of misbehaviour and lead to termination because of a breach of contract. This is because of the direct disobedience of orders. If the termination is because of misconduct, the employee is not eligible for redundancy pay.

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What happens if an employer doesn’t have a mobility clause?

If there is no mobility clause and the employer is still insisting on moving, the employee could potentially claim a breach of contract on the employer’s part with a constructive unfair dismissal claim. The employee can request a hearing at a tribunal court which will decide which of the two parties is being “unreasonable”.

On the employer’s side, if they can show that the new location is suitable and that the employee has rejected the offer “unreasonably”, they can terminate the contract on a redundancy basis. However, the employee doesn’t qualify for redundancy pay in this case.

The employer can also offer re-engagement after relocating to the new premises. Here, the employee can reject or accept the terms coming with the new contract.

When a company is considering changing its premises, it is important that both the employer and employee are on the same page. This way, both parties can handle the transition smoothly. It’s good to seek legal advise from a professional to help you make the right decision.

Although there is no reasonable distance for relocation, Evolve relocation company based in London is your go-to solution. Whether you’re looking to help your employees with their relocation or relocating your office, working with a qualified and reliable relocation company is advisable.