Office Relocation? Employers, check your mobility clauses11 Dec 2020
Currently, many employers may be considering office relocations to downsize their office space owing to pandemic related reductions in headcount, changes in staff working practices, or a need to reduce outgoings. There are many issues for them to consider that will include their lease or licence obligations but one such issue is whether they are entitled to insist that their employees work from a different office location.
Employment contracts should include a place of work clause identifying where an employee’s normal place of work is. Employers in this situation should check to see whether their employment contracts also include what is commonly known as a ‘mobility clause’ that identifies where else an employee might be required to work.
A typical clause will provide that the normal place of work is at a specified location or such other place that an employer may reasonably determine within a defined reasonable area.
To be able to successfully rely on such a clause, its terms must be very clear and unambiguous and an employer should exercise any contractual right to move office location reasonably and give reasonable notice to employees of any move. It may be prudent for employers to consider offering appropriate financial or other assistance to help employees adapt to the change.
If there is no mobility clause contained in the contract of employment or any other effective contractual right to change employment terms unilaterally, employers should obtain consent from any affected employee to a change in their place of work. If consent is given, this will operate to vary the employment contract and it is preferable that this change is recorded in writing.
Where consent to a change in office location is refused by an employee, depending on the circumstances, this may result in a termination of their employment and may give rise to employment claims against the employer that may include, for example, claims for breach of contract, unfair dismissal, constructive dismissal and redundancy.
It is important therefore that employers seek appropriate legal advice if they have any concerns about the effectiveness of any mobility clauses or the reasonableness of any new office location.
Here is a link to the Government’s website giving information for employees faced with this situation:
If you require any specific advice or assistance about employment law or any of the issues referred to in this blog, please contact Yvonne Addy by telephone on 0207 486 5131 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or make an online enquiry here.
This blog was prepared on 27 October 2020. It is not intended to be advice and should not be relied upon as such.