Can an employer require employees to live within a certain distance of the workplace?

Employees should generally be free to make their own decisions about where they live and their commute to work. Distance and travel time can vary depending on the part of the country in which the workplace is situated. In large cities a relatively short distance in terms of mileage could take an hour or more. In other areas, a longer distance could result in a shorter journey time.

The key for an employer is to ensure that it does not impose any condition that it cannot justify. When imposing provisions, criteria or practices in connection with employment, there is always a possibility that these could be challenged if they are found to impact adversely on a particular group and amount to indirect discrimination that would need to be objectively justified.

There will be jobs that reasonably require the employee to be within a certain distance (or travelling time) of the workplace. For example, senior medical staff, or managers who are key-holders of premises, may need to be contacted and brought into the workplace in an emergency, when time and distance may be critical.