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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 9339
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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I work as a care worker visiting clients in their home. My

Resolved Question:

I work as a care worker visiting clients in their home. My boss states that I must live within a*****of my catchment area. I need to move from my current rented accomodation due to the landlord serving a 30 day notice of eviction on me as he wants to move back in. But I can only find somewhere*****away from my catchment area. Can my Boss legally hold me to the 20 minute rule as I might end up homeless.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  F E Smith replied 1 year ago.

Was this 20 minute rule stated in any contract documentation before you joined the company?

How has the 20 minute period been measured? It would be longer at peak time and much less in the middle of the night.

Where do you live now in terms of minutes?

Is there a reason why you need to be 20 minutes away?

Have you raised the 25 minute issue with your boss?

As much detail as possible with regard to the reason for this would be useful thank you.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
the 20 minutes to my catchment area was stated in my contract.The time/distance is taken by using AA autoroute, so no consideration was made between peak and off peak.From my current address to where i want to live would be an additional 25 minutes to the catchment area. But my boss will allow me to move so the journey would be only an additional 20 minutes. Which is still in the same town but on opposite sides.No real reason why i have to be 20 minutes from my catchment area as i would just leave to start work earlier.
Expert:  F E Smith replied 1 year ago.

Thank you. How long have you worked there? Have you actually raise the 25 minute issue with him?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Work for the company for just over a year. And yes have raised the issue of time with them, but they are adamant that i can live in one area but not the other despite them being on just oppisite sides of the town.
Expert:  F E Smith replied 1 year ago.

Whilst they can make any stipulation in a contract that they like, whether it’s enforceable or not is a different issue. Sometimes, a contract will have a provisioning where the employee cannot work for a competing employer for a period of time. It depends on the time period but just because that maybe in a contract doesn’t mean that it’s enforceable.

This is no different. Just because it says 20 minutes does not necessarily mean that the employer could enforce it. It would be different if for example it was the fire service and you are required to be there within a particular period of time in the case of emergency from what you have said, this seems to be no reason and they are not prepared to give one. Hence, if you decide to ignore this and simply move anyway, it’s most unlikely that they could get rid of you breach of contract. The breach is not fundamental, it’s minor, and it doesn’t strike to the heart of the contract. It just seems to be some arbitrary provision from what you have said.

Unfortunately, if they decide to get rid of you, you cannot pursue a claim for unfair dismissal until you have worked there for 2 years (it was 12 months before 6 April 2012). There are certain reasons when you can pursue a claim for unfair dismissal within that period such as discrimination, health and safety, whistleblowing et cetera but this alleged breach of contract is not one of them.

If you think they are doing this to try and get rid of you, and making things so uncomfortable that you feel you have to leave, then you have a claim for constructive dismissal but unfortunately you cannot bring that until you have been therefore 2 years at least.

If they get rid of you for this reason you will not be able to bring a claim for unfair dismissal you may have a claim for breach of contract.

If he does dismiss you, you would have no option but to sue him for breach of contract. Some solicitors would deal with this on a no win no fee basis and it would be worthwhile certainly speaking to a firm near to you to see whether they would be interested in taking this on.

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