Employee relocation rights

09 July 2019

Businesses move for a number of different reasons, often related to saving money, cutting costs, or expanding their organisation.

But does an employee have to relocate with your business? Can they refuse? Well, the answer is in their employment contract.

In this guide, we’ll help you to understand your legal stance with regard to workplace relocations.

Forced relocation employment laws

Staff members are legally entitled to receive a written statement of the main terms of employment.

This statement has to set out their normal place of work. If you want your team to relocate at a future date, you need to check whether there’s a “mobility clause” within the contract of employment.

The clause will usually say it’s a condition of their employment the employee will move locations due to business needs.

It may also set certain limits, such as locations will be within a certain radius of their normal place of work.

Where there's a mobility clause, forced relocation laws mean you can rely on this to require your staff to relocate. But this is unless the relocation is unreasonable.

What is, or isn't, depends on the facts of each case. Typically, it can consider matters such as:

  • Time periods for moving.
  • Distance.
  • Costs of relocation.
  • Impact on the staff member.

The mobility clause, or a separate relocation policy, may set out sweeteners for your team.

The clause can include financial support or help from you towards relocating. In terms of a relocation package, compensation will often be in terms of money.

This will include mileage costs or rent payments for a short period. But it can look into other assistance, such as signposting the employee to mortgage advice.

What if there’s no contractual clause?

Without a contractual clause, requiring a member of your team to relocate is a breach of contract. It may even lead to an individual resigning. They can claim a constructive dismissal.

It’s up to the employee to choose whether they want to agree to the relocation or not. In terms of employer relocation rights, you can try to come to a mutual agreement about the move.

Offering some financial or other forms of assistance may encourage an agreement. If they do agree, make sure the acknowledgement is on record.

A signed and dated document as evidence of the agreement.

A relocation redundancy

You have another option where there's no contractual mobility clause, or where there is but this clause doesn't support the particular relocation. Or the employee refuses to move.

Good business practice is to choose one process and make sure they stick with this to avoid any confusion or uncertainty. Redundancy legal advice will reinforce this.

Where the reason for the relocation is the original place of work is closing, this is a redundancy situation.

It's because there’s no longer a need for an individual to do particular work at the place they were a staff member.

A relocation redundancy distance procedure will need to include an offer suitable for alternative employment.

It'll involve the same jobs at the new place of work. It’s up to the employee whether they wish to accept alternative employment.

Staff members who have two years’ service and receive a dismissal for redundancy will receive a statutory redundancy payment.

Need help with employee relocation laws?

We’ll provide guidance to get your business from A to B, along with your workforce. Call us today on 0800 028 2420.

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