When a company relocates to new business premises, they may also relocate their employees. From time to time, companies may also be required to relocate staff to other cities or countries. This might be the result of opening a new office or trying to meet operational requirements by having enough resources in different locations. Companies need to consider the rights of their employees when relocating people. At the same time, employees need to understand conditions of their employment contract when they are asked to move.
Whenever a company relocates, employers are responsible for ensuring the rights of their employees are respected. This includes respecting the terms of any mobility clause in an employee’s contract. A mobility clause outlines the conditions and limits when an employee must move. This clause normally allows companies to force their workers to move, in accordance to the terms outlined in the clause. Employers are not required to provide compensation for employees if they relocate, unless this is identified in the employment contract. Employers must ensure that any request to move is reasonable. For example, asking an employee to relocate outside of the UK with only one day’s notice or if the move would affect the employee’s children’s education would not be considered reasonable requests.
It is important for employees to fully understand their employment contract and mobility clause, if present. Any employee with a mobility clause in their contract must move at the request of their employer unless they prove that the request to relocate is unreasonable. If proven that the move is unreasonable, the clause may not apply and the employee can request alternative arrangements. Employees without a mobility clause have the option to choose whether or not they wish to move.
Depending on the employer, there may be a dispute resolution process in place to discuss unreasonable requests to relocate. The first step is to discuss any concerns informally with management. Additional steps might include filing a grievance with the employer or speaking to a trade union representative. If the dispute cannot be resolved, an employee can then go through an employment tribunal process. This provides an opportunity for the employee and employer to present their cases and answer questions in order to help the tribunal make a decision. Other options include mediation, conciliation and arbitration where a third-party is used to solve disputes.
If an employee decides not to move, their employer has the ability to make the employee redundant. If this happens, employees may have the right to redundancy pay if they are not getting compensation from the employer as a result of their decision not to relocate or if they have unreasonably refused an alternative arrangement. The employee may also be eligible for redundancy pay if they match redundancy criteria, such as the amount of time they have worked with the company.
For more information about rights and responsibilities when relocating people, contact the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas).
Further information on Company Relocation.