The company I work for has been acquired by another company - both are very small in size, with no more than ten employees total. It's at the point where we've all been asked to sign new contracts, but I'm reluctant to sign as my "normal place of work" is listed as the company's registered address, not the office where I currently work (and this would theoretically add over two hours onto my commute each way!)
I've pushed back on this, but have been told:
My gut feeling is that this legal argument is nonsense. I'm also reluctant to sign not just because of the place of work change, but because of implications on claiming expenses for travel.
Assuming that this claim is the nonsense it seems to be, what is the best way to push back?
My gut feeling is that this legal argument is nonsense.
You're 100% correct - registered address for a Limited company in no way has to be your usual place of work. It can be but no obligation to make it so.
If you're having trouble making them understand that then ask them how on earth companies with multiple offices/branches/etc manage to exist.
Amusingly if you did sign the contract as is but were expected to continue working at your existing site you'd actually become eligible to claim mileage/traveling expenses for going to the existing site as it would no longer be considered your "normal" place of work for tax purposes.. HMRC would almost certainly not accept that of course but you could attempt to use that as a way of point out the wrongness of their proposition by sticking an expenses claim in!
As others have said, the legal argument is nonsense - imagine for example an employee of a supermarket chain - their normal place of work will be the particular branch of the supermarket, but the registered address will be the head office.
I would be very concerned about this, as it clearly says to me that they intend to close your office and force you to commute to the other location. The 'informal' arrangement then won't be worth the paper it isn't written on... I'd also read the rest of the terms VERY carefully, in case they've tried any other tricks...
Other answers have pointed out that the address thing is a lie.
What you should be really worried about is that they are lying to you to get you to sign the contract. Given that, any informal assurances they give you are completely untrustworthy. Nothing will count except what's written in your contract, and expect them to try to get out of that as it suits them. This is a terrible start to an employer-employee relationship.
If you don't go out and find another job, have a lawyer look over your contract before you sign, and be on the alert for other things.
When you go to work, you first travel in your own time and at your own expense to your "regular place of work". If it turns out that you need to work elsewhere, then you travel during your work time and at the employer's cost to that other place. So if this was taken serious, you'd be travelling from your company's registered address to your actual work place and back every day, at the company's expense.
Your "normal place of work" is the place where you normally work. Unless you normally work at the registered address of the company, that's not your normal place of work.
As others said, this is either stupidity or intended to trick you. After all, it would be expected for you to work at your "normal place of work". That is not where you are working now, but at the registered place of the company, if that is in your contract that you accepted. "Informal" agreements are not worth the paper they are not written on.
At the very least, these two points that they make should be included in the contract. As it is, the new contract should not be accepted.