The radical changes to both the dynamics of business and patterns of employment mean that companies are increasingly keen to recruit those prepared to move, and Fred Howie of the Northern Recruitment Group sees companies pushing candidates hard at interview. 'But even though a candidate may say yes (to a mobility clause) at the time, in a year his or her circumstances may have changed.'
Mobility clauses are therefore having to get ever tougher to have the desired effect, but employers must avoid overstepping the legal mark: such clauses can, if unreasonably enforced, be construed as constructive dismissal. Meanwhile a recent Court of Appeal ruling suggests that mobility clauses may amount to indirect sex discrimination against women as secondary earners.
Whatever the legal refinements, however, Mary Clarke, employment partner with lawyers Alsop Wilkinson, points out that should push come to shove, 'employment relationships are not happy bargains between equal partners. An employee can negotiate terms, but in the end will be required to keep his or her side of the bargain or resign.' Where a partner cannot travel, the effectiveness of a mobility clause seems to depend on the employee's priorities: family or job first?