57

I was just hired for my first full-time position since graduating from University. The location is 15 minutes away from my parent’s house, and I just moved back in with them from college to accept/commute to this office. My written offer letter stated that I would be reporting to my local office.

Not even two weeks into my employment, a few Chiefs asked my boss if he would be ok with them “borrowing” me for a project, which would involve commuting 50 miles from my home for the next two months.

I told them, quite frankly, that I wasn’t hired to work at their new office, and I wouldn’t be able to commute there every day. I mentioned that I’d be able to commute once a week and work remotely from the original office, and that I would do everything necessary to overcome the learning curve and issues that come with telecommuting.

Am I being unreasonable, and is this something they can terminate me for?

23
  • 29
    What country are you in, and what does your employment contact say about your place of work? – Philip Kendall May 27 at 21:30
  • 77
    Why don't you ask to do the normal commute, then they can arrange transport for 50 miles there and back before days end. Thats normal in my locale. eg If you start at 8am they can then drive you around all day if they want so long as you're back to clock out at 5pm. An alternative to is to make the commute time part of your working hours and get a travel allowance. – Kilisi May 27 at 21:32
  • 11
    Need to include country on this as the rules are totally different depending on the country ... – Dave3of5 May 28 at 10:39
  • 10
    how on earth are there an aggregate over 120 upvotes on answers to this question when we don't know where OP is working or in what industry? – Alex M May 29 at 0:26
  • 9
    "and is this something they can terminate me for?" How on earth do you expect this to be answered without a location?? You think all laws all the same everywhere? – eps May 29 at 16:16
113

Ask for the commute to be part of your working hours or ask for overtime pay.

7
  • 8
    also ask for reimbursement for gas, 50 miles both ways is a pretty long hike. – Derek May 28 at 7:11
  • 10
    I was seconded to work from an office around 50 miles from my home office for about 6 months. During that time I was offered a hotel to stay at or the use of a company vehicle and time paid for the commute. I took the car and money. I was paid at overtime rates for the commute, a very lucrative arrangement. This was in the UK. – uɐɪ May 28 at 7:16
  • 35
    @Derek in the US, you're better off asking to be reimbursed at the IRS mileage rate. It's meant to cover fuel as well as wear & tear on the car and it's something most companies are easily set up to handle. – alroc May 28 at 12:30
  • 1
    @Joe Strazzere: Entirely depends on the commute. 50 miles on Bay Area freeways? No way are they going to pay enough. 50 miles on untrafficed mountain road? I might pay them :-) – jamesqf May 28 at 15:17
  • 4
    @Donald At 15 miles per gallon and $4.50 a gallon (higher than the average cost in California, the most expensive state), gas would cost 30 cents a mile. IRS reimbursement is 56 cents per mile, down from 58 in 2019. At a more realistic 25 MPG and $3.25 per gallon (just above the US average), gas would be 13 cents a mile. So incorrect about two things: first, we're not close to gas costing more per mile than the IRS rate; second, the IRS rate can change, as it has every one of the last ten years. – mdfst13 May 30 at 0:05
55

No, you are not being unreasonable for not wanting to have that extra commute imposed on you.

You were hired to work on Office A from X hour to Y. What should happen is that you go to work at Office A at X. Then, if they want you to be on Office B you would travel there during your work hours, and travel back from there so you can check out of local office at Y. This should be at company expense, you could be given a company car, travel with another employee that is also going from Office A to Office B, by public transport (paid by the company) or, if going in your own car, be reimbursed for that mileage in whatever way is stated by the company policies.

You "sell" to the company a number of hours of your time. If instead of doing your "expected" kind of work, they prefer to have you doing something else, like driving between offices, that shouldn't concern you.¹ Of course, the company will probably not like to lose those hours of your work every week on that "internal commute", so it will be in their interest to see if they can have you working remotely from the Office A. But if they find it so important that you are in Office B to have you start your working hours moving between offices, well, it's their choice.

¹ In general, obviously there are cases where it would matter, such as if the task they gave you was denigrating, if driving was a problem for you (or even didn't have a license!), etc.

15

I think if they require you to work off-site, you can ask them if they can provide accommodation for you for that 2 months, eg. book a hotel room or Airbnb.

My example: I work in the UK, and from time to time I'm being asked to support sites in other cities in the country, and the other company books me a hotel and car/transport ticket (if the site is more than 25 miles away).

2
  • In the UK, it only needs to be 2 miles from your normal place of work, for travel expenses etc - asking for accommodation just 2 miles away might be pushing it though, – freedomn-m May 28 at 13:11
  • @freedomn-m I once got given overnight hotel accommodation directly opposite my office because we had gone from North England to South Wales and back on my first day of work :) – Danny Beckett May 28 at 13:32
5

I agree with much of what's already been said. This answer is about proposing a compromise that can work well in some situations.

The mode of transport is important, as is the nature of the work. If there's a fast train, and you can work on the train, then everyone should be happy with you doing the majority of the journey during normal working hours, working as you do so. I have seen this agreed to for a new starter, then vetoed by HR, and of course if you're a lab chemist or work on top secret material it's less likely to be possible. The company should bear the cost as this is a secondment and not what you were recruited for.

This is an awkward distance though. Much longer and they'd need to provide accommodation (a neighbour was put up in a hotel for a few nights a week at about 80 miles recently). Much shorter and many people would consider it if they can get a clear run. For example I have a 40-mile train journey and while this isn't part of my usual working hours, I do often do some work; my evening commute can be very useful for email exchanges with colleagues who keep later hours than me.

3

Nathan, I have been working in Russia and the US. In both countries the employer is interested in using you for less money. You sell your time, your life and health. Employer gets your time, ideas, sweat and tear in exchange for money. You must establish personal boundries and requesting coverage for commute time is one of the basic things. Don't be afraid to stood up for yourself. Team player/work ethic etc - is a BS that is used to make sure that you are going to work up late till Sunday for free. Don't buy it. Remember, if you get into accident in your commute time - you are going to pay for it. If this happens during work hours your employer is going to pay for it. Now realize, that employer puts u under risk of getting injured in the car accident and ensures that you are going to be held responsible for it. Doesn't it make you feel foolish? If you will accept their terms, the following is going to happen: every other day there will be another important meeting or something will happen. You have to go there. In one month you will be going there every day for various reasons so. And you won't be able to back out because you'll be afraid to be fired and accepted rules of the game (again, team player all this stuff). It is better to disagree with the stuff now, renegotiate or find another place to work. Only you can protect yourself.

2

You can totally say no. However, people do remember who is flexible and who is not and use that knowledge when filling higher up positions that require flexibility.

So, you can do whatever you want, but it can hurt your career.

1
  • He's just starting, straight out of university. It's not like this is the job he'll want to keep for the rest of his life, anyway. – devoured elysium May 30 at 19:24
0

You're not being unreasonable, but you'll want to be looking for a new job as soon as possible. From your perspective, this company has a culture and expectations that you don't care for; why would you work there? From your employer's perspective, they got work to do and need people with a certain work ethic; why would they want to keep you around?

1
  • Asking is basically the opposite of expectations. – pipe May 29 at 18:57
0

How badly do you need the job? If you can get another suitable job within a tolerable amount of time, then realize you have the power.

And to answer your question, no, it is not reasonable to expect you to travel both ways on your dime.

In the USA, this would normally mean you'd be reimbursed "for mileage" which includes fuel and wear-and-tear on your vehicle. It can also mean that the commute hours are counted as the work day.

If you say you won't commute, the managers involved would have to actually work to ensure you could work remotely from the local office. They are "solving" the logistical hassles by asking you to commute. They probably also want you to absorb the cost, or haven't even thought about it. As one gets older and more established, a little gasoline doesn't factor very much into the financial equation. Starting out, however, every penny matters.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .