What is Reasonable Travelling Distance?

By Andrew Willis
05 Jan 2021

Your staff’s daily commute to work comes in many forms—cycling, trains, cars, and everything in between.

In the UK, cars are the most popular mode of transport. Trains and buses are the next most common options.

A 2019 survey by the Trade Union Congress (TUC) shows that the average commute to work increased by five minutes over the last 10 years. The time your employee spends commuting to work can have an impact on their performance. It will also affect their wellbeing and job satisfaction levels.

This piece explores the employment law surrounding reasonable daily travelling distances.

Reasonable travelling distance

Changes must be in line with employment law. Reasonable daily travelling distances in the UK aren’t specified in existing legislation. However, you should apply common sense and consider various local conditions.

There are specific circumstances where it is important to consider the distance your employees travel for work. For example:

  • A planned move
  • A change of duties
  • A change of working hours.
  • Alterations to the services you provide

It’s important to check if an employee’s contract of employment includes a ‘mobility clause’, the employee has to move to the new location. This is unless they can prove the request to move is unreasonable.

But how long is too long to commute to work? It’s each employee’s decision—they should determine what is, and isn’t, too long a distance to travel on a daily basis.

But you can keep in mind the extent of their individual journeys. This information is an indication of whether it’s a reasonable distance to travel to work. And, if necessary, you can make adjustments to their route to improve their work-life balance—more on this below.

The cost of commuting to work

Based on a survey last year, the average employee spends £1,738 per year travelling to work, this amounts to a total of £134,695 over the span of a lifetime.

This figure doesn’t include the value of the time they spend commuting. According to research conducted by the TUC, the average commuting time is 59 minutes.

Some of the consequences of a lengthy commute are stress, anxiety, increased absence, and reduced productivity. You can improve the situation for employees by offering:

  • Flexible or remote working.
  • Job sharing.
  • Annualised hours.
  • Part-time.
  • Work from home, etc.

The development in technology allows teams to communicate with each other from different parts of the globe. Consider whether this will make home-working an option for your employees. If you’re uncertain, implement a trial period and monitor performance throughout.

Expert Advice

If you require assistance with working hours, flexible working requests, or any other HR issue, speak to a Croner expert today 01455 858 132.

About the Author

Andrew Willis

Andrew Willis is the senior manager of the Litigation and Employment Department and assumes additional responsibility for managing Croner’s office based telephone HR advisory teams, who specialise in employment law, HR and commercial legal advice for small & large organisations across the United Kingdom.