The Taiwan High Court rendered the 106-Lao-Shang-47 Civil Decision of November 14, 2017 (hereinafter, the “Decision”), holding that if the employer and employees have tacit agreement on the job location, negotiation between them is still required even if it is necessary to relocate the facility.
According to the facts underlying this Decision, the Plaintiff filed a complaint, alleging that he had been employed by the Defendant, who subsequently informed the employees by way of the announcement at issue that the previous facility in Sanchung would be relocated to Taoyuan and requested all employees to work at the new location while the job descriptions remained unchanged. In addition, a dormitory featuring four-person rooms and an monthly rent of NT$2,500 or a monthly transportation allowance of NT$2,000 was provided. nHowever, the Plaintiff could not move due to his family reasons and subsequently sought to terminate the labor contract on the ground of illegal relocation and filed a complaint to compel payment of a severance pay and the issuance of a involuntary termination certificate.
According to the Decision, the Defendant previously set up a factory in Sanchung and recruited workers locally, and the Plaintiff and his family also lived in Sanchung. Therefore, even if the employer and the employee did not enter into a written labor contract, it was still sufficient to conclude it was tacitly agreed that the job location was limited to Sanchung of New Taipei City. The Taoyuan plant was acquired after the labor contract was established and the labor contract or work rules between the parties did not stipulate the authority to adjust existing job locations. Therefore, even if it was necessary to relocate the facility, the relocation still required negotiation between the employer and the employee. The Defendant’s unilateral change via the announcement at issue breached the labor contract. In addition, the Defendant did not provide any compensation or assistance regarding the additional one-hour commuting time so incurred in addition to factors such as daily life schedule and family life changes. This shows that the lifestyle disadvantages suffered by the Plaintiff as a result of the job location change exceeded a reasonable scope of tolerance under general social construct. Therefore, the relocation via the announcement at issue was still illegal.
Based on the foregoing reasons, the original decision held that the Plaintiff’s termination of the labor contract on the ground of the Defendant’s breach of the labor contract as well as the claims for a severance pay and an involuntary termination certificate were both well-grounded and was rendered in favor of the Plaintiff.