Am I entitled to compensation for my office moving and my commute increasing?
October 2, 2023
The company I work for is moving its head office. That will increase my commute time to 80 minutes from 20, plus additional costs to pay for public transit. The ability to walk to work was a factor in choosing this job. Am I entitled to any compensation for the office relocation? I can still get there in 20 minutes if I take a taxi every day. Can I make my company offset my transit costs so my commute time is equal?
THE FIRST ANSWER
Entitlement to compensation for the office relocation would either extend from an agreement with the company or come as a result of a breach by the company. The source of the agreement may be through either a written or verbal contract regarding work relocation.
If this was a significant breach by the company it may result in a constructive dismissal. A constructive dismissal occurs when substantial changes are made unilaterally by your employer without your agreement. The question of whether this relocation requirement would be a constructive dismissal is determined by whether it would be considered a major change to the original terms of the employment contract. If so, you can likely treat the move as a constructive dismissal and seek wrongful dismissal compensation.
In some cases, courts have found that relocation was an implied term of an employee’s contract if it was common for employees in their positions to be geographically transferred. If it is an explicit or implied term of your employment contract that your employer can impose a relocation, it would not be a breach by the company and you would not be entitled to compensation.
It’s a good idea to start by reviewing your employment agreement for any details regarding relocation and/or work location. If the contract is silent about your company’s right to require you to relocate, consider whether your company was aware that the distance of the head office from your home was a key consideration in your decision to take the job.
From a practical perspective, while you can negotiate with your company to pay you compensation for your transit costs, it’s not possible to force the company to do so. Even if they’re not required to compensate you by law, the company may be willing to find a solution that works for both of you to maintain the relationship.
Constructive dismissal is quite a technical area of law to navigate so it’s worth getting individualized advice from an employment lawyer that can consider all the facts and provide appropriate guidance specific to your circumstances.