Employers may find themselves considering relocating employees for a variety of reasons. It could be the employer is relocating its business or opening another site.
Whatever the reasoning, Employers need to tread carefully as they have certain obligations and employees have certain rights that need to be considered.
Mobility clauses
In the employee’s Contract of Employment, there may be a clause which allows the employer to move the employee to another place. This is known as a mobility clause.
If there is an express mobility clause, the employee will be required to move to the new premises or workplace, subject to the employer exercising its discretion under that clause reasonably. What is considered ‘reasonable’ is not defined in any legislation, but for example, it would not be ‘reasonable’ to move an employee from London to Manchester and only give them 24 hours’ notice.
No mobility clause
If the employee’s contract does not contain a mobility clause, the employee is under no obligation to move.
If they do not wish to move, the employer may try and discuss different options with them. Depending on what move the employer is proposing, it may mean the employee has a longer or more expensive commute. It may require the employee to move house and worry about the upheaval of moving their family. The employer is required to explain the reasons for the move and consider if there are any ways to relieve the burden, for example, are there any possibilities that the employee could work from home or can the employee work from another site?
The employer could also consider a trial relocation period. This would give the employee the opportunity to go to the new location for a few weeks and see how s/he feels about a permanent move.
Unless the employer agrees to do so, there is no duty on the employer to pay compensation for relocating. However, these types of incentives could be critical when it comes to convincing staff to relocate. The employer is such circumstances would be well advised to weigh up the costs of losing valuable members of staff with key skills and experience and the cost of hiring new members of staff to replace them.
Redundancy
If the employee is adamant that s/he does not wish to move, a redundancy situation may arise as their job at their current workplace no longer exists.
The employee cannot unreasonably refuse any suitable alternative employment options. What is reasonable would depend on the circumstances. For instance, if the location is close and easy to get to and does not significantly disrupt the employee’s family situation, it may be unreasonable for the employee to refuse. Eligible employees may lose their redundancy pay if they unreasonably refuse.
Conclusion
All in all this is a tricky subject but the above summary highlights the main issues to be considered. As always, good legal advice on the subject is always the best solution for both employers and employees alike should they find themselves in these situations.

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