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TUPE and redundancy causing headaches for cleaning contractors

Published 24th June, 2009 by Neil Nixon

TUPE and redundancy causing headaches for cleaning contractors

An increasing number of cleaning contractors are experiencing costly and time-consuming employment problems because of the complexity of The Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations (TUPE).

According to TUPE and HR specialist John Stacey from, the Transfer regulations do provide for changes to terms and conditions but only in a very limited way. This, he claims, has led to some cleaning firms making expensive mistakes that have inadvertently taken them outside the law, as well as damaging staff morale and client relationships at a critical time.

“We recently helped a cleaning contractor who bid for and won a lucrative contract, but had little or no real understanding of TUPE,” said Stacey. “Less than 48 hours before starting the new contract, the outgoing contractor wrote to him with details of the five existing staff who would be transferring over. Unfortunately, the enthusiastic new cleaning contractor had already gone out and recruited five new staff, and we had to advise him that - by law - he now had a total of 10 staff. He was none too happy!”

Stacey confirmed that in essence, the Transfer regulations mean that when a contract passes from client to contractor or between contractors, staff have a legal right to transfer to the new employer on their same terms and conditions of employment - and with continuous service. He added: “The issue we’ve lent most of our expertise to in the past six months has been the thorny problem of a client being unhappy with the standard of cleaning from existing staff who have the right to stay on site because they have legally transferred over to the new contractor. It’s not a simple matter to put right, but there are solutions for those who seek expert help.”

Stacey pointed to another recent case for, which saw a cleaning contractor whom had bid on competitive rates of pay. He’d successfully secured the contract because the client was unhappy with the existing service, but then discovered that he would not only have to keep the staff but also have to honour their higher rates of pay.

“Thankfully,” continued Stacey, “we’ve been able to implement a plan with this contractor to steer him back into profitability but, as we all know, it’s tough out there at the moment. We recently worked with another cleaning contractor who had declared redundancies, but without following statutory dismissal procedures. When he came to us he had already received an alarming solicitor’s letter. Despite his mistake, we managed to get him back on track. Dealing with TUPE and redundancies is a whole new area for many managers, so it’s best to get proper HR advice before making decisions they may regret.”

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