TUPE Update
When does TUPE apply?
The complexity of a simple question.
Richard Arthur, Thompsons Solicitors
13 February 2013
“The 2006 amendments brought more service provision changes within
the ambit of TUPE. The intention was that TUPE would apply to
most service provision changes, thereby giving greater legal
certainty, ending any exposure to fluctuating case law, creating a
more level playing field in the tendering process and reducing
• Business transfers;
• Service Provision Changes; and
• Public Sector
“A transfer of an undertaking, business or part of an undertaking…
another person where there is a transfer of an economic entity which
retains its identity”. (Reg.3(1)(a)).
“Economic entity”
“An organised grouping of resources which has the objective of
pursuing an economic activity……” (Reg. 3(2)).
Factors include:
• Workforce;
• Management staff;
• Organisation of the work;
• Operating methods; and
• Where appropriate, operational resources.
(Suzen v Zehnacker Gebaudereinigung GmbH
Krankenhausservice C-13/95 [1997] IRLR 255)
“Economic entity”
• An organised grouping of employees specifically and permanently
assigned to a common task may amount to an economic entity
(Francisco Hernandez Vidal SA v Gomez Perez [1999] IRLR 132);
• Absence of organisational structure might not be critical
(Jouini and others v Princess Personal Services GmbH [2007] IRLR
10050) (about a temporary employment business); and
• Transfers can relate to “part” of an undertaking and the “part” of an
undertaking does not need to exist as a stable economic entity
before the transfer (Fairhurst Ward Abbotts Ltd v Botes Building
Limited [2004] IRLR 304).
“Retains its identity”
Necessary to consider all the factors including:
• Type of undertaking;
• Whether tangible assets transfer;
• The value of intangible assets;
• Whether a majority of the undertaking’s employees are taken on by
the new employer;
• Whether or not customers transfer;
• Degree of similarity between activities pre- and post-transfer; and
• Period of any suspension of activities.
(Spijkers v Gebroeders Benedik Abbattoir [1986] ECR 1119)
“Retains its identity”
The ECJ (now CJEU) has drawn a distinction between:
• Asset-reliant undertakings-where the non-transfer of assets will
mean that there is no transfer (Oy Liikenne Ab v Liskojarvi [2001]
IRLR 171); and
• Labour-intensive undertakings-where the decisive factor is whether
the new employer “…takes over a major part, in terms of their
numbers and skills, of the employees…” (Suzen and CLECE SA v
Valor and another [2011] IRLR 251)
“Retains its identity”
Approach in the United Kingdom:
• “Asset-reliant” and “labour-intensive” are opposite ends of a
spectrum (eg Balfour Beatty Power Networks Ltd v Wilcox [2007]
IRLR 63);
• Problem in labour-intensive undertakings: existence of a transfer
may depend on whether the new employer takes on a major part of
the existing workforce; and
• The reason why the employees were not taken on by the new
employer is a relevant circumstance as to whether there is a transfer
(RCO Support Services and another v UNISON and others [2002]
IRLR 401).
“Retains its identity”
• Still really unclear in labour-intensive undertakings where the major
part of the workforce is not taken on: Atos Origin UK Ltd v (1)
Amicus and others (2) Compaq Computer Ltd (3) Compaq
Computer Customer Services Ltd EAT/0566/03 26 February 2004;
• Integration of the transferor’s undertaking: the link between the
workers and materials and a similar economic activity must be
retained: Klarenberg v Ferrotron Technologies GmbH [2009] IRLR
“Activities” cease to be carried out by a client/contractor.
• Contracting-out;
• Second generation contracting; and
• Contracting-in.
• Organised grouping of employees” which has as its “principal
purpose” the carrying out of the activities;
• Not in connection with a “single specific event or task of short
duration”; and
• Activities not wholly or mainly the supply of goods or services.
(Reg 3).
“Organised grouping of employees”
Grouping must be organised by reference to the requirements of the
client in question: Eddie Stobart Ltd v Moreman and others [2012]
IRLR 356-the fact that the nightshift workers happened to work
mainly for one client didn’t make them an “organised grouping of
Changes in activities or client
• The activities do not have to be identical after the transfer:
Metropolitan Resources Limited v (1) Churchill Dulwich Limited and
(2) Martin Cambridge [2009] IRLR 700;
• “Activity” has been restrictively construed: Ward Hadaway Solicitors
v Love and others UKEAT/0471/09;
• But change in activities can mean no transfer (eg OCS Group UK
Ltd v Jones and another UKEAT/0038/09; and
• The activities before and after the transfer must be carried out for
the same client: Hunter v McCarrick [2012] EWCA Civ 1399.
Fragmentation of activities
• There may be no service provision change if the service is so
fragmented that no transferee can be identified: Clearsprings
Management Limited v Arkins and others UKEAT/0054/08/LA and,
most recently, Enterprise Management Services Ltd v Connect-up
Ltd and others [2012] IRLR 190; and
• It may be possible to identify a transferee even if the service is split:
Kimberley Group Housing Limited v Hambley and others [2008]
IRLR 682.
Transfers within public administration
“An administrative re-reorganisation of public administrative authorities
or the transfer of administrative functions between public
administrative authorities is not a relevant transfer” (Reg.3(5)).
Implements ECJ decision in Henke v Gemeinde Schierke and
Verwaltungsgemeinschaft Brocken [1996] IRLR 701.
Transfers within public administration
Distinction between:
• Activities falling within the exercise of public powers, which are not
economic; and
• Services which, without falling within the exercise of public powers,
are carried out in the public interest and without profit motive, in
competition with profit-making operators (Ivana Scattalon v Ministero
dell’Universita e delia Ricera [2011] IRLR 1020).
The Public Sector
• Cabinet Office Statement of Practice on Staff Transfers in the Public
Sector 2000;
• Code of Practice on Workforce Matters in Local Authority Service
Contracts 2003 (withdrawn March 2011);
• Code of Practice on Workforce Matters in Public Sector Service
Contracts 2005 (withdrawn December 2010); and
• Fair Deal for Staff Pensions.
• TUPE does not apply to share sales-unless the evidence shows that
the new owner assumes control of the business (see Millam v Print
Factory (London) 1991 Ltd [2007] IRLR 526); and
• TUPE can apply to a transfer from the UK to a non-EU State (see
Holis Metal Industries Limited v GMB and another [2008] IRLR 187).
“…..However, [SPCs] go further than the provisions of the Directive and
are thus considered gold-plating……”.
“…Given that it is not clear that the intended benefits are being
realised, the anti-competitive effects of efforts to avoid TUPE in this
context, and its wish to remove unnecessary gold-plating, the
Government proposes to reverse the 2006 amendments relating to
service provision changes in Great Britain.”
Some thoughts in reply
• BIS Impact Assessment: “… there as so many TUPE transfers
and a comparatively low number of Tribunal cases, TUPE legislation
should be viewed as an area where there is good compliance”;
• BIS relies erroneously on the ET statistics for TUPE information and
consultation cases to say that there has been an increase in TUPE
claims in ETs;
• The number of disputes as to whether there is a transfer has
decreased significantly-eg decrease in appeals to EAT and Court of
• SPCs have led to increased certainty; and
• The majority of respondents to BIS’ call for evidence in 2012
favoured retaining SPCs (66: 47)

Richard Arthur - When does TUPE apply