Should employees be given more rights on when and where they work in light of the Covid...read more
Our office is closing down and we are all being transferred to a building seven miles away. Most staff can manage the move, but I cannot. I work 9-3 daily and drop my kids at school for 8.45am and get to the office for 9am. I leave the office at 3pm and arrive at school to collect them at 3.10pm. I have worked these hours for six years, having been at the company now for 23 years. If I transfer to the new site, I will have to get childcare for both kids every morning and after school. This is a course of action I do not want to take. I would rather be made redundant, but the business are telling me that I either transfer and/or resign. Surely they can’t do this.
Your potential entitlement to a redundancy payment due to the relocation of your office depends on the wording contained in your terms and conditions of employment which would transfer over to the new company. If your contract contains a clause which states that the company has the right to transfer you to a “suitable alternative place of work” or similar wording to meet the needs of the business your entitlement will depend on whether the new location is regarded as “suitable” in terms of travelling time. If you are, for instance, based in London and it currently takes you an hour to get to work, an additional 30 minutes of travelling time may be considered unreasonable due to the relocation. You would consequently be entitled to a redundancy payment since the definition of redundancy includes ceasing to operate in a particular location.
If your contract does not contain such a clause you could argue that any office move is not allowed under the contract and therefore amounts to a redundancy situation. If your employers do not agree that you are redundant, you could resign and claim constructive dismissal on the grounds of the new location being unsuitable/in breach of contract. Such a claim would need to be pursued in the Employment Tribunal and you have a strict three months deadline in which to issue such a claim from your date of resignation.
You may also be able to argue that the requirement to relocate is discriminatory since it is going to affect you more unfavourably than a comparable male since you need to deal with childcare. The prospect of having a threatened constructive dismissal claim and discrimination claim may be enough to prompt them to think again and perhaps at least offer you redundancy.