As workers become more comfortable with working from home, many may be considering this as an opportunity for relocating without consent of the employer for personal reasons. It may be difficult to resist the appeal of moving out of a busy city, being closer to family, or relocating for lower property prices. Before packing their bags, however, employees should consider asking for consent from their employer before leaving the city that they were employed in.

Although this type of issue – relocating without consent, has not yet been considered by the courts in the context of COVID-19, previous case law indicates that when an employee relocates to another city without their employer’s consent, it may give rise to cause for dismissal if the issue can not be resolved.[1] This will of course depend on the circumstances of the case at hand, such as the terms of the employment contract, the distance of the relocation, whether there was dishonesty around the decision to relocate, and the willingness to work with the employer to find a solution.

Employees considering a long-distance move or relocating without consent should also consider whether they are likely to be called back to the office once the COVID pandemic recedes. Similarly, an unreasonable refusal to return to the office may be considered a breach of the contract of employment.

Before making the decision to move to a new city while working remotely, employees should speak with their employers to avoid any potential conflicts that may place their job in jeopardy. To better understand your workplace rights and explore the viability of a claim during these unprecedented times, we encourage employees and employers to seek legal advice. We at Whitten & Lublin are happy to provide insight and advice into your specific circumstances. If you are looking for employment lawyers and would like more information about what Whitten & Lublin can do for you, please contact us online or by phone at (416) 640-2667 today.

[1] Ernst v. Destiny Software Productions Inc., [2012] B.C.J. No. 734; Staley v. Squirrel Systems of Canada, Ltd., [2013] B.C.J. No. 860.

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