Move home or lose job, rail staff are told

Network Rail staff who live more than 75 minutes from work face losing their jobs unless they agree to move home.

The firm has told staff moving from its London headquarters to a new centre in Milton Keynes, which opens in June, that they must live locally or find new jobs. It said managers would be allowed to live 90 minutes from the centre.

The Transport Salaried Staffs Association said that around 850 staff who have agreed to move from the Euston HQ, mainly those living south of London in Kent, Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire, could be affected.

Employment lawyers suggested that the new rules may not be legal, saying it is not unusual for people to commute much longer distances and that firms and their staff have a "mutual duty of trust and confidence".

"I can't see on what grounds they could conceivably do it lawfully. For redundancies, Network Rail would have to show they have acted fairly and reasonably," said Kate Jackson, of Didlaw Solicitors. "If their behaviour could be seen in any way as unreasonable by the average person on the street, then a court is going to find that it is an unfair dismissal. Thousands commute to work over much longer distances so I cannot imagine anything which justifies Network Rail saying this to their staff."

Network Rail defended the policy, saying it believed it to be legal and that it was intended to "instill the right work-life balance" in staff at its new centre.

Manuel Cortes, the TSSA general secretary, said: "This is an unfair and arbitrary decision which we believe to be unlawful. This modern-day version of Beat the Clock to get to work is a complete nonsense.

"They are telling staff they cannot follow their jobs in the worst recession in 70 years. With unemployment heading towards three million, where else are they going to find work in these hard times?"

Mr Cortes has written to Network Rail, warning bosses that the union will take legal action to defend what it sees as its members' right to move to jobs in Milton Keynes without having to move home. He added: "We are hoping that Network Rail will start to see sense on this issue."

A Network Rail spokesman said the company thought the number likely to be affected was closer to 150 people but that anyone who refused to move within the zone would be "helped to find another job outside of Network Rail".

He added that managers were given more leeway on commuting times because the company wanted to "retain its better staff".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark production team claims innocence of viewers' ab frenzy
Life and Style
Google marks the 81st anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster's most famous photograph
techIt's the 81st anniversary of THAT iconic photograph
News
Katie Hopkins makes a living out of courting controversy
people
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £38,000

£16000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to continued expansion, an ...

Ashdown Group: Senior .Net Developer - Kingston Upon Thames, Surrey

£65000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A long-established, tech...

Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Ashdown Group: Software Development Project Manager - Kingston Upon Thames

£55000 - £60000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Experienced Software Dev...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders