What rights do employees have when they move house?

Time off to move home is an often misunderstood area of the law. David Lewis reports

Moving to a new house can be stressful for everyone involved. In advance of the move, a lot of organisation is required: the signing of contracts, meetings with conveyancing solicitors and the many viewings you’ll have to attend before your heart is set. A lot of these cannot be organised outside of working hours, unfortunately, as solicitors and estate agents are often restricted to 9-5. 

And from the moment you pick up your new keys, a lot of time is spent unpacking, moving furniture from one place to another, decorating and sorting out your basic utilities. 

The question is, are employees entitled to any time off work when they move house?

For those in full-time employment, it will definitely be tricky trying to arrange all the above within their 37-or-so hours a week. However, while a lot of employers sympathise with their staff, as they’ve been in similar situations, there is no legality around time off for moving house and it is granted at the employer’s discretion.

The only legal right an employee has for time off work around this process is to use their annual leave, in accordance with their normal holiday entitlement. The legal minimum for annual leave in the UK is 28 days, including bank and public holidays.

Employees do not have any specific right to be allowed any time off work for reasons such as moving to a new house, whereas in Spain, for example, staff get a day off for moving house, without it affecting their annual leave.

If an individual doesn’t know their personal entitlement to annual leave, this is something they should check in their company handbook or employment contract. Some employers allow additional days off – paid or unpaid – for special occasions such as weddings, birthdays or funerals.

If an employee applies to take a day off to move house and you decide to reject the request, you will have to give a reason. There is also no minimum or maximum amount of holiday an employee can take at one given time, providing it is in line with their contract.

The notice period given should be twice as long as the individual would like to take off. For example, if they want to take a week off work, then would need to submit their request a minimum of two weeks beforehand. 

David Lewis is a solicitor in employment law at Howells Solicitors