Apart from the post below I haven’t touched upon these regulations, mainly because they are not the most interesting regulations in the world to read. However, I have been spurred on by posting on the case of Royden & others v Barnetts (see below) and TUPE comes up quite a few times on the search engines as a keyword. In future posts I will look at the TUPE issues on the insolvency of the employer as well as the consultation obligations imposed upon employers by TUPE.
So, what do the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of employment) Regulations 2006 (TUPE) actually do?
It protects those employees where the employing business changes hands, by;
(1) protecting them from dismissal because of the transfer,
(2) by requiring the employer to inform and consult those employees affected, and
(3) transferring all rights liabilities and obligations from the transferor company (“oldco”) to the transferee (“newco”).
There must be more than a transfer of shares. All employees employed by oldco at the point of transfer automatically move across to newco with the same terms and conditions of employment. This means that if newco tries to provide amended terms and conditions to transferred staff they will be in breach of contract and may end up facing claims for constructive dismissal.
Furthermore, if newco dismisses transferring staff for a reason connected with the transfer that will be an automatically unfair dismissal , although if newco can argue that there were “economic, technical or organisational” reasons entailing changes in the workforce of either the Transferor or Transferee” for the dismissal, it won’t be automatically unfair. It might still be an unfair dismissal if the reason for the dismissal (not being the transfer) was also unfair.
An ET would look at all the circumstances of the dismissal before making its finding. In particular the ET will consider whether the employee was likely to have been dismissed even if the transfer had not occurred. If yes then the dismissal will probably not have been for reason of the transfer, but it might still be unfair (i.e perhaps unfair selection for redundancy, or maybe discriminatory reasons were involved; the list is long). One of the potentially fair reasons for a dismissal under the Employment Rights Act 1996 is “some other substantial reason” (SOSR). For an employer to escape liability altogether for the dismissal it will have to show that the reason for dismissal comes within SOSR and that it was reasonable for them to rely upon that as the reason for dismissal.
If an employee is found to have been unfairly dismissed (whether automatically or not) the maximum amount they can recover from an ET (up to February 2010 anyway) is £66,200 plus a basic award of £350 (or £525 depending on age) per week per year of service. The employee needs 12 months continuous employment experience with oldco to be able to claim unfair dismissal.
Claims involving TUPE can be complex and if you are concerned about your position or think you might need legal advice do call me on 0207 464 8433 or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org