Mobility Clauses in Employment Contracts

The Employment Appeal Tribunal in Kellogg Brown & Root (UK) Ltd v (1) Fitton UKEAT/0205/16 and (2) Ewer (21 November 2016) had to consider appeals on a number of points including whether a mobility clause in a contract of employment allowed the employer to insist on a permanent move to another location. The mobility clause outlined the employee’s current place of work adding that the employee can be asked to work at other locations ‘unless exceptional circumstances prevail.’

The claimant’s were asked to move from their usual place of work in Greenford to Leatherhead as the Greenford office was being closed down with a number of staff being made redundant, both claimants refused to move and were subsequently dismissed. They brought claims for statutory redundancy payment on the grounds that the real reason for dismissal was redundancy and also for unfair dismissal.

The EAT found that it was not a redundancy as the employer genuinely believed they could rely on the mobility clause to insist on the employees moving to Leatherhead. It was however unfair dismissal as the contractual clause was insufficient to allow this course of action.

This case provides guidance on how the courts will interpret mobility clauses and the care that should be used both when drafting and relying on them in practical scenarios. From an employers perspective It is useful to seek advice before using such clauses particularly if you are dealing with potential redundancies.

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