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taratill, Solicitor
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 6430
Experience:  15 years experience of advising on employment law matters
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Relocation of work with mobility clause

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My commute to my current office location is 15-20 mins by one bus. My commute to my new office location would be 1 hour 45 mins by tube/bus with a minimum of 2 changes (nearly a 3 hour increase in commute time per day) and I would be required to work in this office a minimum of 3 days a week. The shortest driving route from the current office to the new one is 22.7 miles. I have the following mobility clause in my current permanent contract: You will be based at one of the Company's central London offices. However, the Company reserves the right to move you from one business function to another and/or to transfer you to another location on giving reasonable notice of any such change. I know from the below resource that if I have a mobility clause in my contract the company can force me to move unless this is completely unreasonable and that "reasonable" depends on individual circumstances. My ideal outcome in this case would be redundancy but I have heard that companies have used mobility clauses in relocation cases to avoid redundancy payments. So far I have verbally discussed my concerns about the relocation and the change in my job with HR but they are saying I have no choice in the matter and have offered no relocation or commuting allowance. I've documented my concerns in email and am waiting for followup. My question is what legal options do I have in this situation and what actions are in my best interest ideally to facilitate a redundancy outcome? How likely is my new commute and office location relative to my current one to be viewed as "completely unreasonable"? Adding nearly 3 hours a day to my commute certainly seems unreasonable to me. How does the fact that my duties are also changing affect this situation, when it is difficult to quantify the magnitude of the change?

Hello my name is ***** ***** I am happy to help you today. How long have you worked there for?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi and thank you. I have just passed the 2 year mark on 10 June.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

As background: The department I work in a large corporation is going through a reorganization. On 21 May I was told in a group meeting that there were 23 people for 20 roles and that there would be a selection process undertaken. I was required to submit my CV and expression of interest form by 28 May a week during which both my manager and her manager were out of office. I expressed interest in redundancy and clearly stated I could not commute to an outer London office. On 17 June I was told I was appointed to a different role at the same level in the new organization and told my office location would change when I assumed the new role as on 1 Aug. I have not yet been given a new contract to sign but assume it is coming.

Thank you for the detailed information. Do you believe that the change in location will affect your colleagues in the same way as it will effect you? If you think you will be affected more please let me know why?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
From conversations I've had, yes some are negatively affected (at least two others I know of), but others positively. The other two I know of who are also negatively affected live much closer to the new office location than I do. Their new commute would be a bit longer, but not nearly as significant a change in commute time as it is for me. All three of us are also unhappy about our new roles/duties.
Are the new roles/ duties significantly different? If so in what way?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I'm not sure how to quantify this but in my opinion yes new roles are significantly different. In my case, my current role includes relationship management with business facing HR clients as well as a global geographic scope for the work I am involved in within my segment of the company. My new role will not include either of these two elements. Instead I will work across all 4 segments of the company and will have a national UK specific country focus only. I have not been given a job spec for my new role yet so I don't have all the details, but the above changes were clearly articulated to me in response to questions I asked when my appointment was communicated to me on 17 June. They are contrary to my career goals and I have documented in writing these concerns.
In order to answer your original question with a relocation clause it will be quite difficult to raise an argument that this is a redundancy situation (although not impossible). This is because caselaw dictates that if there is a relocation clause an employer can use this to avoid redundancy. You can argue that it is not reasonable to ask you to relocate given the amount of time it will take you to go to work at the new location. Whether a tribunal would agree that this would entitle you to redundancy pay would depend on the evidence presented to it.
From a practical point of view you may have a stronger argument to say that the role is not the same and that you reject the role on the basis that the role that is being offered is not a suitable alternative. This can be the case if the perceived status of the role is lower or could be perceived as such if you are applying for alternative jobs.
I would suggest, under the circumstances that you raise a grievance with the employer setting out both problems and to say that you consider under the circumstances that you are entitled to redundancy pay. If they disagree then you will have to consider your options. This might include taking the employer to tribunal for redundancy pay in the event you do not feel you can continue in the new role at the new location.
If you have any further questions please do ask. If I have answered your question I would be grateful if you would take the time to rate my answer. Thank you and all the best.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hello Jenny. Thank you for your answer. A further question if I may based on your response...

  1. What determines whether a role is or is not a suitable alternative? You state that if the perceived status is lower I could argue it is not a suitable alternative which is very helpful as I do believe that is the case in my situation, but is there anything else that might help my argument on this front or with the perceived status of the role?

  2. I suppose in general terms my concern is anything I put in writing either now or in a grievance procedure can end up working against me as well if I don't make the right argument without realizing it because I don't have the legal expertise. Are there things I should say or should avoid? Is there specific language to use or avoid?

I appreciate your advice. Thank you,


sorry for the delay
1. there are a number of things that can make an alterative role unsuitable, the suitableness is from the eye of the employee. Things like lower salary, status or perceived status have all been found to make roles unsuitable. Ultimately it is for an employment to decide what is or is not suitable.
2. You do need to raise a grievance about this if you feel strongly. It should not be held against you. There is no specific form of words to use. If you want help drafting this it is something I can offer as an additional service.
I would be grateful if you would now take the time to rate my answer as I am not otherwise credited for my time. I will be happy to answer your follow on questions.
taratill and 2 other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Jenny,

A follow up question if I may to the above scenario. Does the above situation necessitate a consultation period to be opened? We had a meeting where our group was told there were more people than roles, but the word consultation was not used. A colleague of mine in the same group (also in this initial meeting) has now asked for a consultation period based on the same reasons I have shared above and was denied. The company quoted the mobility clause and said the job was not seen as materially different and said consultation would not be opened. Just seems strange and contradictory based on the first meeting. Any clarity you can provide would be helpful and appreciated.

It is my view that the employer should consult and should not deny that this amounts to a potential redundancy situation. If they fail to do so you can raise a grievance about the point and say that you do not believe that the alternative role is a suitable altenrative.