The company I work for has been acquired by another company - both are very small in size, with no more than ten employees total. It's at the point where we've all been asked to sign new contracts, but I'm reluctant to sign as my "normal place of work" is listed as the company's registered address, not the office where I currently work (and this would theoretically add over two hours onto my commute each way!)

I've pushed back on this, but have been told:

  • Not to worry, I can carry on working in the same place informally;
  • The normal place of work can't be changed on the contract, as the normal place of work listed legally has to match the company's registered address.

My gut feeling is that this legal argument is nonsense. I'm also reluctant to sign not just because of the place of work change, but because of implications on claiming expenses for travel.

Assuming that this claim is the nonsense it seems to be, what is the best way to push back?

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    I don't get the hold. The question doesn't ask about company policy: it specifically says "legally". Arguably this is "law" and not "workplace", but the hold reason is not applicable. – Jay Oct 10 at 15:45
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    Edited to attempt to bring on topic for this SE. OP if you feel this deviates from your intention please feel free to roll back. – Myles Oct 10 at 18:52
  • @Joe seems pretty off topic due to legal to me, given questions about tax relief. I'm not sure OP should take tax deduction advice from a forum. – bharal Oct 10 at 21:22
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    @Jay this does come under what a competent hr or some one familiar with uk employment. – Neuromancer Oct 10 at 22:30
  • Do your normally work at one place or do you work at more than one place? – Neuromancer Oct 10 at 22:33
up vote 30 down vote accepted

My gut feeling is that this legal argument is nonsense.

You're 100% correct - registered address for a Limited company in no way has to be your usual place of work. It can be but no obligation to make it so.

If you're having trouble making them understand that then ask them how on earth companies with multiple offices/branches/etc manage to exist.

Amusingly if you did sign the contract as is but were expected to continue working at your existing site you'd actually become eligible to claim mileage/traveling expenses for going to the existing site as it would no longer be considered your "normal" place of work for tax purposes.. HMRC would almost certainly not accept that of course but you could attempt to use that as a way of point out the wrongness of their proposition by sticking an expenses claim in!

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    Thanks very much for the confirmation. This was my understanding as well, but I wanted a second opinion; legalities are not my strong point. – Anonymous Oct 10 at 11:06
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    No matter what paperwork your employer puts in about your "normal place of work", HMRC will never let you claim expenses for travelling to what is clearly your normal place of work. The duck test applies. – Philip Kendall Oct 10 at 11:19
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    @PhilipKendall true.. although the criteria they apply is ill-defined. It would come down to a judgement call from HMRC, my last paragraph is more tongue in cheek then anything else as arguing against the existing site being considered "normal place of work" in the OP's case would never fly in a million years. Still, might be a way of pointing out the idiocy in the contract to them though. – motosubatsu Oct 10 at 11:29
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    If registered location and usual place of work were the same, every self employed contractor would be trouble unless they always work from home... bear in mind though if you don't sign, then you may find yourself without a contract. – UKMonkey Oct 10 at 12:37
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    There is more striking example: virtual offices. Such law would make them actually useless. – Agent_L Oct 10 at 12:57

As others have said, the legal argument is nonsense - imagine for example an employee of a supermarket chain - their normal place of work will be the particular branch of the supermarket, but the registered address will be the head office.

I would be very concerned about this, as it clearly says to me that they intend to close your office and force you to commute to the other location. The 'informal' arrangement then won't be worth the paper it isn't written on... I'd also read the rest of the terms VERY carefully, in case they've tried any other tricks...

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  • Force? in the UK above a relatively low grade - they can ask you to move any where and its considered fair – Neuromancer Oct 11 at 20:47
  • @Neuromancer only if it's in the contract, and even then only within certain limits. gov.uk/employer-relocation-your-rights a two hour extra commute wouldn't be considered reasonable. – Nick C Oct 11 at 21:01
  • Most managerial and professional jobs are "mobile grades" what your talking about applies to supermarket workers and if they refused the employer could make the redundant And even if its not in the contract for some jobs I suspect custom and practice would make it an implied condition. There are some limitations I believe working at sea and on oilrigs come to mind. – Neuromancer Oct 11 at 21:08

Other answers have pointed out that the address thing is a lie.

What you should be really worried about is that they are lying to you to get you to sign the contract. Given that, any informal assurances they give you are completely untrustworthy. Nothing will count except what's written in your contract, and expect them to try to get out of that as it suits them. This is a terrible start to an employer-employee relationship.

If you don't go out and find another job, have a lawyer look over your contract before you sign, and be on the alert for other things.

When you go to work, you first travel in your own time and at your own expense to your "regular place of work". If it turns out that you need to work elsewhere, then you travel during your work time and at the employer's cost to that other place. So if this was taken serious, you'd be travelling from your company's registered address to your actual work place and back every day, at the company's expense.

Your "normal place of work" is the place where you normally work. Unless you normally work at the registered address of the company, that's not your normal place of work.

As others said, this is either stupidity or intended to trick you. After all, it would be expected for you to work at your "normal place of work". That is not where you are working now, but at the registered place of the company, if that is in your contract that you accepted. "Informal" agreements are not worth the paper they are not written on.

At the very least, these two points that they make should be included in the contract. As it is, the new contract should not be accepted.

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