EMPLOYEE RELOCATION RIGHTS: Are employees compelled to move if their employer relocates?
It is not uncommon for companies to move their location and physical address. Employer relocation happens for many different reasons.
Some will move to reduce costs or to find larger premises. Others may see relocating a necessity for company restructuring or a business merger.
Whatever the reason, it can create redundancies and disputes. But, as a rule employees will have to move when they have a mobility clause in their employment contracts.
Note: Exceptions occur where the request for an employee to relocate is totally unreasonable.
Circumstances When Employees Must Move
What should you do if your employer moves the location of the business? The first step for employees is to check their contract of employment for a mobility clause.
Evidence of a mobility clause means employees will have to move, within some limits. In most cases, employers can force their employees to move to places stipulated by the clause. You would have a case if the move was completely unreasonable.
Different options exist for solving workplace disputes on unreasonable requests. But, most employees without a mobility clause written in their contract can choose to move, or not.
Example: It would be unreasonable to ask an employee to move and work abroad with only a few days’ notice. This would qualify as a mobility clause in contract of employment example.
Employers can choose to make their employees redundant if they refuse to move. But, in this case some employees will have a right to redundancy pay providing they:
- Meet the redundancy criteria (e.g. worked the minimum length of continuous employment).
- Do not get compensation from their employer because they refused to move.
- Have not ‘unreasonably‘ refused a suitable offer of alternative work.
In this case, ‘unreasonable‘ could mean several different things. But, examples could be refusing to move even when the:
- Company relocated to another location nearby.
- Employee could choose to drive or use public transport.
You might consider it to be ‘reasonable to say no‘ if the move involves:
- A complex journey.
- Difficult access to education for your children.
Business Relocation Compensation
As a rule, employers do not need to offer compensation to employees for relocating. The exception would be where the employment contract specifies it.
Solving Disputes on Work Relocation Rights
In some cases, employers and employees need to solve a work dispute over relocation issues. Likely reasons include being unreasonable or refusing to make a redundancy payment.
If Your Employer gets Taken Over
TUPE regulations protect employees’ rights if an employer gets taken over and the new owners relocate. TUPE stands for the ‘Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment’. Read more on business transfers, takeovers and TUPE.
The existing rights of all employees remain unchanged. They include employee contractual rights and their redundancy protection. In this case, the fact that the new owner introduces the relocation has no effect on your rights.
Note: The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service can help with any questions about employer relocations.