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Case law: Ruling clarifies when asking an employee to relocate is unreasonable

Employers asking workers to relocate should ensure the clause they are relying on in the employment contract to justify the request is sufficiently clear, and that the request is reasonable in the circumstances.

Legal Alert

This update was published in Legal Alert - February 2017

Legal Alert is a monthly checklist from Atom Content Marketing highlighting new and pending laws, regulations, codes of practice and rulings that could have an impact on your business.

Please note: A newer article on this case was published in the November 2017 edition of Legal Alert following subsequent developments in the legal process.

Two employees were asked to work in a different location after their own workplace was closed. Clauses in their contracts of employment allowed their employer to ask them to do this. However, it would have increased their travelling time to work by 20-30 hours each week so they refused to relocate. They were dismissed and one of their resulting claims was for unfair dismissal.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal ruled that their dismissal was unfair because:

  • The clause in the employees' contracts was too wide and uncertain
  • The employer had acted unreasonably when making the request
  • The employees had acted reasonably when they refused to relocate

Operative date

  • Now

Recommendation

  • Employers asking employees to relocate should ensure the clause they are relying on in their employment contract is sufficiently certain and not too wide, and that the request is reasonable in the circumstances

Case ref: Kellogg Brown & Root (UK) Ltd v Fitton & Anor UKEAT/0205/16/BA

Disclaimer: This article from Atom Content Marketing is for general guidance only, for businesses in the United Kingdom governed by the laws of England. Atom Content Marketing, expert contributors and ICAEW (as distributor) disclaim all liability for any errors or omissions.