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Office Relocation in MA

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  • Office Relocation in MA

    Our company currently has a satellite office located in Southboro MA and has been informed that Corp HQ in IL has decided to move the whole office to Boston. The approximate distance from current location to Boston location is 45 miles. At least 90% of the staff currently live within an hour commute. This move will double the commute for most and triple for several others - myself included in the latter.

    There is no HQ plan to offer any $$ incentive to move. This change affects 48 people. I expect 30 (or more) will not move due to the additional expense (daycare, gas, etc.).

    Can these employees expect to be laid off and then be eligible to collect unemployment benefits? Does this qualify as a hardship in any way? Or, since MA is an at will state, do they simply move or quit?

    Any advice would be appreciated.

  • #2
    Several years ago I went through the same situation. I was at that time living in Scituate and the company, which had been located in Boston, relocated to Westboro. I'd been going into Boston on public transportation - I now had to drive 60 miles one way to work.

    When I called what was at that time the DET (I forget what they're calling themselves now) to ask about unemployment I was told that if I quit for that reason, they would have to investigate and determine whether or not a 120 mile per day round trip was sufficient to quit and collect benefits. They WOULD NOT give me a definite answer. All they would say is that I could file a claim and see. I ended up making the four hour a day commute. Thankfully, the company allowed me to work from home several days a week.

    If the employees are laid off by the employer, I would expect them to be able to collect. Or if they choose to, they could relocate themselves to shorten their commute. But if the company does not lay them off (and they are not required to do so) and they quit due to the distance, your guess as to whether or not this would qualify as a hardship is as good as mine.
    The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.