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Mobility clauses and redundancy situations


The Claimants worked for Kellogg Brown & Root Ltd (“the Company”) at its Greenford site.

Both of the Claimants’ contracts of employment contained mobility clauses which stated that the Company could require them to work at a different location including any new office location of the Company in the UK or overseas. The clause went on to state that the employees agree to comply with this requirement unless exceptional circumstances prevail.

The Company subsequently made the decision to close the Greenford site due to reduced workload and told the Claimants that they would transfer to another office in Leatherhead. The Company sought to rely on the mobility clause in doing so.

The Claimants objected to the relocation on the basis that it would substantially increase their daily commute (one Claimant would have a two hour journey each way, the other would have a 47 mile commute each way). The Company maintained the position that the relocation was reasonable under the mobility clause and that measures had been put in place to assist affected employees; in consideration of the additional travel costs the Company operated a six-month compensation scheme and, also allowed an earlier finish time for those who would be affected by traffic in rush hour.

The Claimants were ultimately dismissed for unacceptable conduct when they continued to refuse to relocate to the Leatherhead site.

Both Claimants brought claims for unfair dismissal and statutory redundancy payments.


The Employment Tribunal found that the Claimants had been dismissed by reason of redundancy and the dismissals were unfair.

However, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (“EAT”) overturned the Employment Tribunal’s decision that the Claimants had been dismissed by reason of redundancy. It directed that the Tribunal should ask itself what was genuinely in the mind of the employer when it dismissed. In this case, the Company believed that the mobility clause was reliable and the instruction to move to Leatherhead was reasonable. It was the failure to follow the reasonable instruction that resulted in the dismissal. Therefore, the dismissals had been for their alleged misconduct.

Although the EAT overturned the finding that the dismissals were by reason of redundancy, it did not overturn the finding that the dismissals were unfair. The mobility clause was found to be too widely drafted and uncertain and, due to the Claimants’ individual circumstances it was reasonable for them to refuse to move to Leatherhead. The resulting dismissal for misconduct were unfair in the circumstances.


This case demonstrates that even against the backdrop of a redundancy situation an employer may be able to exercise a mobility clause to avoid a redundancy and associated payments. However, employers should ensure that mobility clauses are carefully drafted in order to be effective as they will likely be subject to scrutiny if a dispute arises. Any dismissal for conduct for failing to comply with a mobility clause will only be fair where the employee’s refusal is unreasonable.

If you would like to speak to us about mobility clauses, please feel free to email us  or contact us on 0191 282 2880 for a no obligation chat.



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