Examples: “Applicants should live in the Bristol area”; “applicants must live within 20 miles / half an hour of the place of work”
Just as it is not usually the employer’s concern how a worker gets to the workplace, it is not usually an employer’s concern where the worker lives either at the time of application or once appointed.
In particular, implying that workers should live in a particular region at time of application is almost certain to risk indirect race discrimination. A German citizen is most likely to live in Germany but, as an EEA citizen, is able to take jobs across the EEA. Such an individual would be disproportionately impacted by such a requirement and thus discriminated against. The same issue could also apply to Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish candidates within the UK.
Insisting a successful candidate should move to a particular location also carries risks. It is always possible that such a requirement results in unintended consequences that become discriminatory. For example, a candidate with a disabled partner may live in a specially-adapted house just outside of the designated zone. Insisting the candidate move could be regarded as discrimination against the employee because of their association with a disabled person.
As always, such requirements must only be enforced where there is a necessary and reasonable justification for doing so. If the role involved being on call to deal with emergency situations, it may be reasonable to expect them to be able to make it to work within a certain timeframe. (This could also be reasonable grounds for requiring a driving licence). As usual, such a requirement must be an essential aspect of the role.
It is also worth considering that most candidates will naturally move to a location suitable for work without having to be prompted.