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It’s common for companies to move location, whether it’s because they have outgrown their old property or have merged with another company in a different area.

The move could be a blessing for employees if they’re at the right stage of their life. The new location may be favourable for housing, expenses and lifestyle. But for most, a move will cause disruption to family life and the new location may not be as attractive as the one they’re already in.

Whether the move is potentially a good or bad one for employees, the employer needs to consult and communicate with their employees before making final decisions.

Moves happen all the time, but what are the formalities when an employer turns around and says the company is relocating, and they’re taking you with them?

Employment contract mobility clauses

If an employer announces that they are to be moving their premises, an employee’s first port of call should be to review their employment contract and specifically the mobility clause section. It is here that their employer will have set the guidelines and boundaries should such a move occur.

Employees without a mobility clause in their contract can choose whether or not to move. Unless unreasonable, a mobility clause allows the employers to move workers to a different workplace.

What is an ‘unreasonable’ move?

Unfortunately, what is reasonable and unreasonable is not clearly defined. It can be open to interpretation from each individual employee. Each will have different commitments and will argue or agree with the move differently.

Some examples of how a move could be seen as unreasonable include young or old age, family commitments, increased travel costs or house prices.

What happens if I refuse a relocation?

If the move is unreasonable, it is within the employee’s rights to refuse a relocation request. If as a result of the move, a job at the current location no longer exists, then redundancy may occur.

Deciding whether or not redundancy rules apply is a complex area. Employees that are debating whether to refuse a move should take legal advice before making a decision.

There is also a potential for employees to claim constructive unfair dismissal, in cases where the employer doesn’t take into account how the move could impact the employee, as this could be seen as a breach of trust and confidence.

Speak to an employment law specialist

If an employer is asking you to relocate and you are unsure of your rights, contact our specialist employment team. For further advice use the telephone numbers below: