Office Relocation—Employee Rights in Ireland

17 August 2020

There can come a time in any business’ life where office relocation needs to take place. So, if this becomes a necessity, what rights do your members of staff have?

Well, it’s a complex undertaking and there are many Irish employment laws to consider ranging from written terms of employment to redundancy.

You can read this guide to get a better understanding of your workforce’s professional standing—as well as your rights as an employer.

H2: Your employees’ rights

Under the Terms of Employment (Information) Acts 1994 and 2001 (as amended by the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018), you must provide staff with certain written terms of employment no later than two months after they start work with you.

One of the main terms you must include is the place where the employee works.  

As the office relocation impact on employees can prove difficult for some, employees will appreciate the inclusion of a clause in the contract confirming what happens if the business relocates.

You must also take into consideration their living situation and roles. As well as the requirement for them getting to your new address. It’s vital to act reasonably at all times during an office relocation.

One of the more difficult situations that can arise is if an employee doesn’t want to transfer to the new business location.

So, regarding forced relocation, employment law requires you as an employer to act reasonably.

For example, can an employer force relocation? Well, what does the employment contract say? If you have a relocation clause in their employment contract (sometimes called a mobility clause), this enables you to request them to make the move to a different location within a specified area.

However, if this isn’t in their contract they may refuse to move and resign.

Under the Redundancy Payments Acts 1967-2007 they may also be able to claim that a redundancy situation exists as:

"The employer has ceased, or intends to cease, to carry on the business in the place where the employee was employed.”

Some staff members may even claim a constructive dismissal, where they’re forced to resign due to a breach of a fundamental term of the contract.

However, they should be careful when doing so. As if your business has a genuine need, or explanation, for making the move, then they won’t have a legal case.

So, your business can avoid such possibilities by having a mobility clause in their contracts of employment and acting reasonably at all times.

A sample relocation clause may state the following:

“The employer has the right, at its expense and with X days of notice to the employee, to relocate the business to a new premises. And to do so in a manner that does not unreasonably interfere with an employee’s requirements.”

You should also look to consider a work relocation within a reasonable distance—there isn’t any specific law on this requirement only the duty to act within reason.

But you should use your best judgement. For example, moving from one end of the country to the other is a considerable ask for even the most dedicated employee.

You can consider offering motivations to staff—this can make the move appear more rewarding.

Does an employer have to provide a relocation package?

You’re under no legal obligation to do this. But it may prove a useful incentive to employees—a way to get them to commit to the change without complaint.

To ease the burden of an office move on employees, you may want to provide a supportive package.

Typically, you could consider financial benefits and/or other types of assistance with relocating. Such as:

  • Helping to research their new commute.
  • Providing a company car.
  • A lump-sum bonus on their monthly salary upon completing the move to help with moving expenses.
  • Allowing flexible working/homeworking opportunities.

Again, these are about making your employees’ lives a little easier. And helping them to make what may be a major overhaul to their lives easier.

Office relocation tips

It’s easy to become bogged down with so much going on, so the best advice it to make your organisation’s move as detailed as possible.

If you’re aware of what’s going on—such as with a step-by-step process—then you can make your relocation run smoothly.

So, you should look to do this as early as possible. The sooner you begin planning, the better your preparation will be. You’ll need to set a budget for the process, so if you set this early you can identify the costs that are ahead.

Along with that, communication is an essential step you need to take. Inform your workforce as soon as you can so they can go about preparing for the move.

Encourage team members to make a checklist (more on this below), which will help them note everything they need to consider about the move.

To help your staff, you should assign a manager to the relocation project. They can then oversee proceedings to ensure your business meets its requirements.

There are a few extra steps you can take to make sure everything runs smoothly. These include:

  • Data protection: Keep track of your files and records—don’t lose any important documents during your move. This could lead to a security breach.
  • Remove items you don’t need: Perform an overhaul of your business, including removing old computers, furniture, and other items you don’t need.
  • Update your address: Do this everywhere—all your important mail from clients, customers, and stakeholders will then direct straight to your new address. After all, you don’t want to miss out on important developments.

However, keep your business’ requirements in mind. As you may need to add in specific requirements for your relocation.

For example, if some staff are set to work remotely, or if you need to make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities.

Office relocation checklist

It’s worthwhile creating a table of items you can update as you move through your moving procedures.

The list can be as extensive as you want it to be. But you should, at the very least, cover the most essential aspects of moving location.

You can follow the below steps to form the basis of your checklist before you begin work at the new location:

  • Step 1: Cover the basics three to six months before you plan to move. You should:
    • Review your commercial property lease.
    • Put together your team plan.
    • Get a quote for moving to your new location.
    • Check whether you need insurance.
    • Establish your moving budget.
  • Step 2: Communicate to all those who need to know about your plans:
    • Update your landlord/property manager.
    • Inform your employees—and let them know your new address.
    • Inform your client list and service providers.
    • Hire a moving company and reserve a date.
    • Provide essential details to your IT department.
  • Step 3: Take into consideration the logistics ahead, such as when you’re moving all your computer and office equipment. This can change if it’s a serviced office.
    • Consider the floor plan of your new location and how you can fit your workforce into it.
    • Have a furniture inventory and an understanding of where to place this across your office.
    • Have a colour code for departments, so you can clearly see where you’ll place them across the office space.
    • Create a moving day plan for staff to follow.
  • Step 4: This is your moving day, when you’ll complete the majority of your relocation tasks.
    • Have an emergency number list on hand in case of problems.
    • Check all equipment and furniture on departure of the old office—and arrival at the new address.
    • Check up on employees to manage their progress.
    • Begin installation of equipment at the new address.
  • Step 5: Now it’s time to get your new office environment in order—always a busy process you need to manage carefully.
    • Follow the layout of your floorplan, adapting where necessary.
    • Setup your computers and telephone lines.
    • Update your company information (including on your website).
    • Carefully check your office and new premises for any health & safety issues.
    • Check that your insurance transfer is in action.
    • Check your invoices and payments.
    • If you want, you can release a press release with details of your office move.

As you can see, it’s a complex process and one you need to manage carefully.

It’s a team effort—so, consider rewarding your employees with a welcome pack once they’re settling in.

Need our help?

If you need further assistance with relocating your office in Ireland, get in touch. We provide 24/7 assistance: 0818 923 923.

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