TUPE: The Prime Minister and Larry

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In the wake of ‘Brexit’ and the concerns over what will happen to workers’ rights given that a lot of those rights are the UK incorporation of European law, the one thing that has gone under the radar is the implication of the installation of a new Prime Minister. Note that this is not a political discussion.

 

Specifically, will Larry, the Chief Mouser to the Treasury (or whatever is his title) transfer to the new Prime Minister by virtue of TUPE?

 

Why is TUPE important to consider?

Early reports suggest that Larry will in fact stay in Downing Street. If TUPE did apply, this would be inevitable.  The new Prime Minister could not dismiss him simply because she does not like cats.  She would require an economic, technical or organizational reason for dismissal.  More, that reason must be one that requires her to reduce numbers, change job functions or chance location.  In this case, unless there is now no requirement for a mouser (effectively a redundancy situation), the incoming Prime Minister has her hands tied.

 

Does TUPE apply?

This is why it is important to first assess whether TUPE applies. For there to be a transfer, there needs to be a change of person providing activities on behalf of another.  Arguably (and for the purposes of not concluding this article now), the Prime Minister could be said to be providing activities on behalf of the nation.  Once that activity-provider changes, any employee assigned to the service will transfer to the new provider.

 

This assumes that Larry is an employee. Unless Number 10 is replete with vermin, one can imagine that his role is an ‘as and when required’ casual job.  Saying that, should the need arise, his owner would be obliged to instruct him to take action and he would be obliged to accept the task.  In any event he will be paid (fed) on an on-going basis regardless of acceptance of a particular job.  We would be required to view all the circumstances of his ‘employment’ to determine whether it can be said that he is under a contract of employment.  However, from the outside looking in, there is no immediate reason (beyond him being a cat) that he is not employee.

 

Even if he was employed, there is the issue of whether or not he was assigned to the particular service (i.e. Prime Minister). Cats are notorious for roaming and having any number of owners at a time.  An analysis of the time spent ‘mousing’ for the Prime Minister versus time spent elsewhere would likely be required but that it is not necessarily determinative, particularly if his principal contractual ‘department’ is Number 10.

 

Conclusion

It is surprising how something as minor and perhaps obscure as this can give rise to a potential headache. Often, employers with a small number of staff that are considered casual and not employees can fall foul of TUPE.  It is important to be aware of the obligations when gaining or losing a contract, or buying or selling a business.  Both incoming and outgoing employers have steps to take in relation to the employees.  For instance, the departing Prime Minister has hopefully not forgotten to provide Larry the information in Regulation 13 nor to provide the incoming Prime Minister his Employee Liability Information.

 

For the answer to the question ‘does Larry TUPE to the new Prime Minister’ (he doesn’t, he is a cat) or for any other advice on TUPE or related issues, please contact Thomas Wood on 0333 207 1153 or Thomas.Wood@forbessolicitors.co.uk

 

Thomas Wood

About Thomas Wood

Tom Wood is an Associate Solicitor within the Employment team at Forbes Solicitors. Tom’s blogs cover his specialisms of restructures, TUPE, discrimination and the termination of employment. Tom also writes and advises companies in relation to holidays and compliance with the working time regulations; handling maternity and paternity matters as well as whistleblowing. Tom provides a practical and commercial insight on the most complex of employment problems.
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