The following article by Andrew Taggart was first published in Financial News, 22nd April 2016.
If your employer decides to relocate your job and you do not wish to relocate, this is likely to constitute a redundancy situation.
You cannot prevent your employer reaching this decision but, if you are employed in England and have at least 2 years of service, you will (among other things) be entitled to receive a statutory redundancy payment if you are dismissed by reason of redundancy. You will also be entitled to compensation for unfair dismissal if your employer fails to follow a fair procedure.
Statutory redundancy payments are calculated by reference to an employee's age, length of service and week's pay. The current maximum is £14,370. The current maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal is £78,962 or 12 months gross pay (whichever is less). If your employer operates a contractual redundancy scheme, you may be entitled to additional payments and benefits.
As part of a fair redundancy dismissal, your employer should warn you about potential redundancies. It should also carry out a reasonable search for and inform you about suitable alternative employment within the company which employs you and, potentially, within other companies in the same group.
Bear in mind that certain employees have priority over vacancies (for example, those on maternity, adoption or shared parental leave). In some cases, it may not be unreasonable for your employer to consider other candidates and appoint by competitive interview.
If you are offered a suitable alternative with terms which differ from your existing terms, you will be entitled to a trial period after which you can decline the job without losing your statutory redundancy payment, provided you follow the required procedure. If you unreasonably refuse a suitable alternative job offered to you, you may lose your statutory redundancy payment. Once you have been given notice of dismissal for redundancy, you will be entitled to take reasonable time off during working hours to look for a new job.
If there are 20 or more employees within your employer who are potentially redundant, your employer will have additional communication obligations which are usually undertaken with trade union representatives or elected employee representatives. If your employer does not comply with these obligations you may be able a claim a protective award of up to 90 days' pay.
If your terms and conditions of employment contain a mobility clause, your employer may be entitled to relocate your job. Your first step, therefore, should be to check your employment documentation. If you unreasonably refuse to comply with the terms of a mobility clause, your employer may be able to terminate your employment and will not have to make a redundancy payment. However, if your employer operates a mobility clause unreasonably, you may have employment claims such as unfair dismissal, wrongful dismissal (breach of contract) and in some cases discrimination.
You may have protection and rights under other employment laws, for example if the relocation involves your employer moving the part of its business in which you work to another company (whether that company is another group company or outside your employer's group) in another country. Your employment contract may transfer automatically to that other company and you may have enhanced rights to claim unfair dismissal; your employer would also have additional obligations to communicate with union or employee representatives.
Your position may be different if you are on international assignment or secondment from another company within your employer's group in another country. If you were previously employed by that company, you may still have an employment contract with that other group company or employment rights from that other country.
Your employer will need to check carefully any obligations under the laws of other countries, as the penalties for failure to comply with such obligations can give rise to criminal as well as civil sanctions.