Can my employer require me to return to the office? 

Can my employer require me to return to the office? 

One of the most common answers that I find myself giving to clients (and acquaintances) in response to an employment query is this: “It depends on what it is in the employment agreement.” 

Coincidentally, this is also the answer to another very popular question in 2022: “Can my employer require me to return to the office, or am I entitled to keep working from home?”, often followed by “I’ve been doing it for 6 months, so clearly I am capable of doing my job remotely.” 

Understandably, many employees feel that, having ‘proved’ their ability to adequately perform their roles remotely, they should be permitted to continue working from home, and wish to refuse their employer’s direction to return to the office. 

The answer lies in the relevant individual employment agreement, in the ‘location of work’ clause. Most location of work clauses will contain wording along the lines of the below: 

“Your location of work will be [address of company’s office] and other locations as reasonably required.” 

Therefore, on a basic contractual level, if your employment agreement does not specifically provide that you may work flexibly or from home for specified times, your employer has the right to enforce the terms of the employment agreement and require you to work from the office.  

However, employees do also have the option of making a formal application for a flexible working arrangement under Part 6AA of the Employment Relations Act if they wish to work flexibly on a permanent basis.  


If you would like to discuss your situation further, please get in touch with the Watermark team directly. We are happy to advise you.

Erin Drew

Senior Solicitor