As the fallout of Brexit starts to become clearer, an increasing number of HR professionals are managing international relocations.
Working with an international move partner brings experience, proven expertise and a network of contacts to an organisation’s global mobility programme. However, there are still important issues for HR managers to consider beyond the physical relocation.
“As any HR professional knows, the essence of good employment relations is consultation, consultation, consultation. Even where the law does not require consultation it rarely does any harm,” employment barrister Jeffry Jupp told Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development. “This is particularly the case where an employer is considering relocating all or part of its business abroad.”
Jupp highlights the three key issues that HR managers should consider when all or part of a business relocates to a new country:

1. Contracts

Some employment contracts include an international mobility clause. In these cases, employers can legally enforce relocation provided that they are acting reasonably. This would include giving employees sufficient time to organize their affairs prior to relocating, for example. In addition, a reasonable compensation scheme and relocation package should be available to employees.
Jupp explains: “If employees refuse to relocate then their contracts can be terminated on notice and any claims for unfair dismissal defended on the grounds that the dismissals were for some other substantial reason. Provided the mobility clauses are enforceable and there has been proper consultation with the employees, such dismissals are likely to be held to be fair.”

2. Redundancy

If no international mobility clause exists and an employee refuses to relocate, then redundancy may be involved. This is the case when the location of an entire element of the business operation is changing or if the demand for particular work is reducing, for example. The consultation period involved will vary according to the number of employees affected by the redundancy situation.

If the employer is to change – to a different subsidiary company, for example – then there will have to be a TUPE consideration. This applies when an enforceable international mobility clause exists. Jupp says: “Under TUPE, employees have the right to object to a transfer but if they do so they will not generally be treated as having been dismissed.”

He adds: “However, if the transfer involves a substantial change to the employees’ working conditions that is to their material detriment, they are entitled to resign and claim constructive dismissal. There is a real risk that relocation to a different country may, depending on the precise circumstances, amount to such a change to working conditions.”

Louise Chilcott, Global Move and Relocation specialist of BTR International says: “We manage and co-ordinate the physical moves, enabling HR managers to concentrate upon the contractual and business element of relocations. We support our clients to ensure that every move is as stress-free as possible.”

For a no-obligation discussion about your organisation’s relocation policy and plans, contact Louise by or calling her on +44 (0) 1582 495495.

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