Out of synch — harmonisation dismissals following TUPE transfer were unlawful

The claimants, along with around 1,500 other employees, transferred to the employer. After the transfer, the college employed some 3,500 staff on 37 different sets of terms and conditions of employment providing offender learning services. When it became clear that the services were not economically viable, around 300 redundancies were proposed, alongside a programme of harmonising terms and conditions of remaining staff. The claimants refused to accept the new terms because they involved a pay cut. They were dismissed and re-hired on the new terms and conditions and brought unfair dismissal claims.

The tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) found that the dismissals were automatically unfair and the court of appeal has upheld this. They were for a reason connected with the transfer but the college could not show that they were for an economic, technical or organisational reason entailing changes in the workforce. This was because the claimants’ dismissals did not involve a change in employee numbers or functions…

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