When an employer moves, employees with a mobility clause in their contract have to move unless they can prove the request is unreasonable.
When employees have to move
If an employer moves the location of their business, employees should check their employment contract for a ‘mobility clause’.
A mobility clause says employees have to move within certain limits. It means that employers can normally force their employees to move to places allowed by the clause, unless this is completely unreasonable.
It would be unreasonable to ask an employee to move to another country with only 1 day’s notice.
There are different options to solve a workplace dispute about what is unreasonable.
Employees without a mobility clause in their contract can choose whether or not to move.
Employers can make their employees redundant if they decide not to move.
Employees may have a right to redundancy pay if:
- they match the redundancy criteria - eg they’ve worked for the employer for a certain amount of time
- they’re not getting any compensation from their employer because they decided not to move
- they haven’t ‘unreasonably’ refused an offer of suitable alternative work
‘Unreasonable’ could mean refusing to move even though the new location is nearby and the employee could drive or easily take public transport.
However, it may be reasonable to say no if it involves a difficult journey or affects personal matters like children’s education.
Employers don’t have to offer employees any compensation for relocating, unless it’s specified in their contract.
Employers and employees may have to solve a dispute over issues with relocation, eg if they think someone is being unreasonable and refuse them a redundancy payment.
If an employer is taken over
Employees’ rights are protected by certain regulations if an employer is taken over and the new owners want to relocate. These regulations are known as TUPE - Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment.
All employee’s existing rights, including contractual rights and redundancy protection, stay the same. It makes no difference that it’s a new owner that introduces the relocation.
Contact the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) if you have any questions about what happens when employers relocate.