The past 18 months has seen a significant number of TUPE related cases. The following is a summary of some of the key decisions.

The meaning of the term `activities’ (Service Provision Change)

A TUPE transfer will occur when there is a ‘service provision change’. In a first-generation outsourcing, where a client outsources an activity to a contractor for the first time, the conditions to be met in order for there to be a service provision change include a requirement that ‘activities’ cease to be carried on by the client for itself and are instead carried on by the contractor on the client’s behalf. As TUPE does not include a definition of ‘activities’, it has been for the Courts and Tribunals to consider how this issue should be approached.

In Metropolitan Resources Ltd v Churchill Dulwich Ltd, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) decided the activities carried out by the transferee must be ‘fundamentally or essentially the same’ as those that were carried out by the transferor in order for a TUPE transfer to occur. The EAT also indicated in its decision that in assessing whether the activities are similar, a more detailed rather than an ‘overview’ approach should be adopted (i.e. consideration should be given to the exact nature of the activities performed by each of the transferee and the transferor and the exact manner in which those activities are performed).

Further support for the adoption of a detailed approach can be found in the EAT’s decision in OCS Group Ltd v Jones and another. Here, the EAT decided that a contractor which provided catering services to a client by preparing hot and cold meals in on-site kitchens performed activities that were different to those of a contractor which only sold pre-prepared sandwiches and salads. The EAT rejected the ‘overview’ approach argument that the activities carried out by each of the transferee and the transferor in this case should be considered to be the provision of food or catering services and should therefore be considered to be the same.Continue Reading Interpreting TUPE – an update on the latest cases