In Part 1 of this blog, we looked at a number of commonly overlooked, but important, considerations for employers in the relocation process.
(Read ‘What to consider when relocating office – Part 1′)
In this Part 2, we turn to the types of employment issues employers can expect to face during the process.
The possibility of relocation redundancy generally arises if an employee’s contract of employment links their position directly to a location. If the work in that location no longer exists, then it is possible that the position is redundant and the employee is entitled to redundancy pay. However, not all work is linked to a location and some employment contracts are drafted to protect against relocation redundancy.
Clearly, relocation redundancy is a complex area of law and employers should seek specific legal advice if the issue arises.
For many employees, the biggest change resulting from a relocation is a variation in travel arrangements.
Some employees may live further from the new site, some may have to catch different types of public transport and others may incur new tolls on their drive to work.
Regardless of the method of transport, employers should be prepared to answer questions about changes in travel arrangements. There are a range of resources available online that can assist in this regard including free maps, public transport trip planning websites and apps and bike lane route recommendations.
Questions about changes in the cost of travelling to and from work should be handled as they arise on a case-by-case basis. The costs associated with travel to and from work are generally not the responsibility of an employer, however, this does not prevent an employer from making individual arrangements with employees to assist in the transition to a new location. If looking at making individual arrangements, employers should be sure to formalise those arrangements and set expectations for the value and duration.
As previously mentioned, organisational change is a known contributor to employee anxiety and feelings of uncertainty.
Employers should plan to have resources in place to assist employees during any period of relocation, such as an employer-funded Employee Assistance Program (EAP) with free access to a counsellors or other professionals.
There can be no doubt that relocating is a big undertaking and requires employers to account for many eventualities. Addressing issues as and when they arise can provide both employers and employees with certainty about the matters in question and allow them to focus on the ultimate goal – successfully relocating the business.
Often, the employment issues that are raised in the context of a relocation are complex in nature and may require specialist advice or support. Employers should be prepared to reach out to their lawyers or other specialist advisors and should ensure that employees have access to EAP if required.