Can an Employer Force You to Move Locations?

If your employer does not have a contractual right to relocate you, they may still make changes to your employment by providing reasonable advance notice of the change. This includes changes to your location. For example, if you have worked in a company for five years and they want to move you, they may give you five to eight months' notice, depending on the details of your employment. Some companies have chosen to close certain offices and relocate those employees to a new location.

For instance, energy company Suncor announced that it plans to move headquarters staff from two Ontario offices to Calgary, potentially affecting more than 700 workers. Your employer cannot force you to move if it significantly increases your commute time or requires you to uproot yourself or your family. If your employer does not have the right to move you, they can fire you without cause, as long as they provide a full compensation package. This may include severance pay of up to 24 months' salary, based on factors such as age, position, salary, commissions, benefits and years of tenure with the company.

If the company fails to provide sufficient severance pay, this is known as wrongful dismissal. If you signed an employment contract when you were hired for the position, read it carefully. If the contract states that your workplace will be in a certain city or location, you may have grounds not to move. However, if an employer is moving an entire office and you are the only one staying, the company is more likely to pay fees for breach of contract rather than reversing your relocation.

On the other hand, if you signed an employment contract at will, your employer has all the cards and can fire you for no reason. Your employment contract may contain conditions that give the company the express right to impose a relocation. Just like a pay cut or a change in job duties, relocation is a change in the terms of employment agreed between you and the company. If you are fired for an illegal reason, your company fires you in violation of their own policy, or if you are fired for a reason not covered by your employment contract, you could have grounds to file a lawsuit for wrongful termination.

Jackson Jeannette
Jackson Jeannette

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