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At the beginning of July 2013, our office was informed that…

At the beginning of July...
At the beginning of July 2013, our office was informed that it was to be closed and all fee earning staff would have to relocate to another office from a choice of two different locations. The closest office to me is 26 miles away and impacts on my family life considerably. This was to be effective 1 October 2013.

I was wondering whether my contractual notice period is still legally enforceable as they are changing my place of work? I think there is a mobility clause in my employment contract.
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Answered in 5 hours by:
7/16/2013
Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: UK Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 49,431
Experience: Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.

Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.

Before proceeding please note that as I am a practising solicitor, I am often in and out of meetings, travelling between clients or even at court when I pick your question up. This may even occur at weekends. Therefore, I apologise in advance but there may be a delay in getting back to you and providing my advice. Please be patient and I will respond as soon as I can. You do not have to wait here and you will receive an email when I have responded.

For now please let me know exactly how long you have worked there.

Customer: Since June 2007. So just over 6 years.
Ben Jones :

Hello, sorry I was offline by the time you had replied. What do you wish to do in this situation - are you going to take up the new position that has been offered or will you seek redundancy instead?

Customer: If I am offered a position somewhere else I want to take it but do not wish to give them 3 months notice but rather work until the office closes on 30 September.
Ben Jones :

The closure of an office will amount to redundancy. In that case the employer is under a duty to try and offer the affected employees suitable alternative employment (SAE) in order to try and avoid having to make them redundant. In your situation the proposed SAE would be the a job at the new location.


 


If an employee accepts an offer of SAE, their employment will continue in the new position and they would lose their entitlement to a redundancy payment.


 


If the offer is considered unsuitable and the employee refuses it, they will still keep their entitlement to redundancy pay. However, if an offer of SAE has been made and the employee unreasonably refuses it, they would lose their entitlement to redundancy pay.


 


So the issue is whether this new location amounts to SAE for you. If you believe that it does not and you reject it, then your employer can issue you with notice of redundancy at any point until the closure of the office and pay you the remainder of your notice period in lieu. This means that if they delay giving you notice until the office actually closes, you would still be entitled to receive the full notice period you are entitled to and this should be paid in lieu.


 


If you were to accept the offer given to you then you will be implying that it amounts to SAE and your employment will simply continue in that new position. Your contractual terms will not change apart from your new location. As such, if you were to accept this new location and move to it you would still be bound by your current notice period if you were seeking to leave their employment by resigning.

Ben Jones :

I hope this has answered your query and would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating - your question will not close and I can continue providing further advice if necessary. Thank you

Customer:

I have a young family (ages 2 & 4). I currently live 3 miles away from the office, therefore I am able to meet all my family commitments (nursery drop-off and pick-up). I leave home at 8am to drop the children off at nursery, and I am home by 5:30pm at the latest to feed, bath, spend time with my children before bedtime at 7pm. If I were to travel to the new office this journey would take at least 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 mins in the morning and at least 50 mins in the evenings. This means that in order to still take my children to nursery at 8am and be home at 5:30pm my usual 7.5 hour day (including lunch), would have to be reduced to 6 hour day (excluding a lunch break).

Customer:

This would mean that I would need to take a reduction in my working hours as well as a reduction in pay in order to move to the new office. Would this be considered reasonable grounds for redundancy?

Ben Jones :

Whether a new position is suitable will depend largely on your personal circumstances and from what you have mentioned there would be reasonable grounds to refuse it and claim that it is not suitable and that you should be entitled to redundancy instead

Customer:

Great thank you.

Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: UK Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 49,431
Experience: Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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Ben Jones
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Satisfied Customers: 49,431
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Experience: Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'

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