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back to article Company selling you out? You've been TUPE-ed

Everyone on your team is called into an obligatory meeting by the boss, and no one knows what it’s about. Just for once, there really is something worth hearing: your manager announces that you and everyone you work with are on your way out. But there’s nothing to worry about, because your jobs are being moved to a new employer …

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Anonymous Coward

Alas poor yorick !

Tupe* or not Tupe that is still the question

(Most pronounce it as "to pee")

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Re: Alas poor yorick !

I always heard it as 'chew-pee' or 'choop'.

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Paris Hilton

The trouble is that TUPE tends to be abused by all parties.

For example, when a company loses a contract to supply services. What sometimes happens (and almost all of the time in the public sector) is that the same employees with the same jobs, incomes and priveleges remain in position while a sort of rebranding operation takes place.

In the UK publicly funded sector this usually takes the form of the local council creating an arms length managed organisation (ALMO?) that tranfers stuff while the council retains ownership through it being the single share holder.

Of course, human nature being what human nature is it also means that undue influence and breaches of data exist for most of the time as the entities are not truly separate and distinct (although one may be forgiven for thinking it is so for it is indeed the perception the ALMO and the holding organisation wish to convey).

Basically a case of "Here, look at the new kids on the block doing new things in new ways" when it really is "same old, same old with mega-financed spin factors"?

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Anonymous Coward

Nothing to do with TUPE

ALMOs (for council housing) and their close cousin, Direct Labour Organisations are nothing to do with TUPE. They are are result of compulsory (or government-rewarded) outsourcing of council operations.

Many councils just created an arms-length body, making it essentially a paper exercise.

It has nothing to do with the transfer of contracts (e.g. cleaning, security guarding, outsourced IT...) between different commercial subcontractors, whereby the in-place dedicated staff are moved across under TUPE. Think of that more (in the case of facilities staff) as them 'working for the building' rather than their employer de jour.

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Sounds like the "modern" domestic power supply industry

'Basically a case of "Here, look at the new kids on the block doing new things in new ways" when it really is "same old, same old with mega-financed spin factors"?'

Sounds very much like the way we all get to buy exactly the same electricity and gas from any of dozens of companies, each run by a separate bunch of pin-stripe-suited get-rich-quick merchants, while the same small professional crew does the actual work regardless.

Ah, the glorious efficiency of the private sector!

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'employee representatives may want to take legal advice: “If they don’t have the benefit of that, they are left probably for the first time in their lives with a set of issues they haven’t faced before..."'

What?

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workers are born with 100% experience in all matters, except legal advice for TUP'eing.

Hence, if they don't take legal advice before the TUP happens, they will for the first time in their life (probably) be facing something new and 'unfaced before'

simple :)

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I had the not too unpleasant experience

of being not-quite-tupe'd from the Beeb to Siemens ten years ago. There was some complicated reason why TUPE didn't apply - might have been to do with the public funding of the Beeb and the fact that BBCT were already a wholly owned subsiduary - memory fades.

But to be fair it wasn't a *bad* experience - we sat at the same desks in the same office using the same computers and the same phones doing the same job we did before, and on one occasion where a serious accident would have triggered an earlier pay cut than the Beeb's T&Cs, Siemens were politely nudged and didn't quibble. Even the pension terms were the same as the Beeb's.

The mistake many of us made was to leave our pensions with the Beeb (on the grounds of eggs and baskets) which meant we over-fifties couldn't get the Beeb pension when Siemens made us redundant some years later. We did get the few grand that the Siemens pension had accrued by then, but we have to wait for the BBC one.

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Tuped!

I was working for a company that got sold to a foreign company and we'll all got tuped.

The very first month we all got demoted and made perform menial frustrating tasks.

If you do not leave and you stay at the end of the Tupe's salary protection period your salary is reviewed and lowered down accordingly.

So we all left a month after the sale.

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Re: you stay at the end of the Tupe's salary protection period!

There is no such period, it remains in place until you leave the role. Any changes would have to be made under a change in your terms and conditions in exactly the same way as your previous employer would have had to. TUPE ensures that there is no difference in your terms and conditions that you had before you TUPEd, but you and your employer can negotiate to come to an agreement.

If you were being threatened with this you should have sought legal advice, you would have grounds for constructive dismissal.

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Re: you stay at the end of the Tupe's salary protection period!

Thats open for dispute. When the Shared Services I worked for was being privatised and the staff TUPE'd we had different legal advisers telling us that TUPE did and did not run out, the lowest time being three years.

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Re: you stay at the end of the Tupe's salary protection period!

which is often what the company wants. They then offer you an immediate out of court settlement as they know you will win but who can wait for 2-5 years for the case to come to court as you have bills to pay in 30 days.

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Re: you stay at the end of the Tupe's salary protection period!

> telling us that TUPE did and did not run out, the lowest time being three years.

Then you where lied to, a good solicitor would have used that to get a good settlement if they were using that to try and get rid of you without needing to go to a tribunal, if it did make tribunal they would have thrown the book at the company.

Legal advice is a must do in any situation like this, doesn't cost much

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IT Angle

Mis-read the headline (or hair-line)

Thought tupe-ed had something to do with being forced to wear an ill-fitting wig ?

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Facepalm

Re: Mis-read the headline (or hair-line)

Believe it or not, some of us were forced to wear wigs at some stupid company presentation play.

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I think you may find that in practice TUPE favourably favours the public sector while the private sector seems a bit dramatic all round?

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You'd think that but the overlords in the Public Sector aren't as stupid as they are made out.

In Department For Transport organisation you have your contract and you have a staff handbook. The staff handbook is enforceable guidleines covering everything from sick, to flexi to grievence and disciplinaries and is treated as terms and conditions. They are not and are not covered by TUPE.

In TUPE most public sector workers get to keep their pay and their annual leave allowance and that's it. All the other favourable aspects such as flexible working hours, pension, public holidays (including the Queen's birthday), sick leave, maternity, paternity, emergency/special leave both paid an unpaid (covers family funerals, baby is sick, my house is flooded), bonuses, pay rises, etc are lost when the member os staff is TUPE'd because it wasn't in their original contract.

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Was at O2 when they decided customer service was an optional extra. Thankfully I managed to avoid being shafted to Crapita, but was amazed at the amount of double talk.

"Don't worry all your rights are protected" they say loudly and proudly, just don't as about the fine print that says this protection is merely a requirement to consult with you... Not unlike how I was just "consulted" (railroaded) about the current change.

Having one side dictate terms is not a reasonable interpretation of the term consultation.

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Anonymous Coward

been there, done that, got the mental scars!

I've been TUPE'd. To be honest it was one of the most unpleasant experiences I've ever gone through. I felt stabbed in the back by an employer that I had worked my nuts off for.

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Mushroom

Re: been there, done that, got the mental scars!

"I felt stabbed in the back by an employer that I had worked my nuts off for."

More fool you for thinking your employer was a "good egg" - most are shite, some more shitey than others, but most will treat you as an expensive overhead that they would rather not have to deal with and would sell down the river given half a chance.

Honeywell was a notable exception to that rule.

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Anonymous Coward

I got gobbled up twice in the space of 3 years - small company of of <100 eaten by bigger company of 400 then finally eaten by the borg that is Oracle - so I have some experience of TUPE, and I actually did very well out of it each time... so far it's been the only way I've had significant pay increases, even including promotions.

After the first transfer I went from just a crappy base salary with normal crappy benefits to a generous element of performance based bonuses on top (which I almost always achieved) and free gold heath cover. With the next transfer, these were then just rolled up into base salary as the next company didn't do those bonuses for my role, along with money to make up for my health cover AND a car allowance, because that was the norm there.

My total package effectively went from ~£24k up to £40k+ in the space of 3 years pretty much purely thanks to being acquired (and some good work in between of course).

I accept I may have been one of the lucky ones when it comes to TUPE, but just wanted to show it's not always bad.

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Let me put your mind at ease: you WERE one of the lucky ones.

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"...one of the lucky ones..."

Definitely, most people end up with an even crappier job and benefits than the one they applied for.

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Consider it an extended notice period !

You're about to be shafted, but it won;t happen on our watch, we've passed that thorny issue on to some other poor sods to deal with later !

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Consider it an extended notice period !

Yep, 6 to 12 months and you're for the chop. To quote a former colleague, "Sesame Street was brought to you today by the letter 'P' and the numbers '4' and '5'."

The other point about moving between large organisations (names already mentioned in article) is just another opportunity to shaft you. Your new employer's HR team will work out that the equivalent to your seven years of seniority is, in their organisation, a junior entry nearing the cap of that grade's pay scale. Which means you'll never see another payrise unless you can get another job on promotion. And you have less than a year to do it so you'd better get the brown nose on.

Though don't be too surprised when you find that they actually treat all their employees below middle-management in the same way. And, of course, the question you should immediately ask is, if to get a promotion I have to apply for another job, why the hell would I go for one in this company?

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SOP in the US

This is SOP in the US, but WITHOUT any worker protections.

You can get moved, pay can be lowered on a whim and benefits, vacation, holidays and sick leave can be curtailed as the new company sees fit. And that's if they decide to keep you. Usually half the team is permanently fired.

I been on the sharp end of this for the last 15 years.

Almost ALL IT sector in the US are now contract and paid anything but being at your desk no longer exists and longevity of the job is measured in a handful of years or months.

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I was TUPEd too

Nightmare.

Everyone transfered over, got to keep our desks, phones and building and everything looked the same. Changingt he templates and headed paper weren't a problem, but then we realized that we weren't wanted there, the dept entered a rolling redundancy phase. We would come in weekly and check to see if we were in the "justify your job or GTFO" tranche. Many of whome couldn't justify the crazy requirements and those that weren't at risk started getting massive downgrades -some the equivalent of 2 council grades.

Worst of all, the previously free coffee supply was stopped!!!

I jumped as soon as I could.

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Anonymous Coward

Ghost of 2e2

I was TUPE'd across to a firm that was later swallowed up by 2e2. Plenty of advisers made some money in the course of these sales and no one could possibly object to the owners of the original firm (Delphis) walking away with a pay-out.

Each time we were reassured about our terms and conditions and the letter of the law was followed ,but our concerns about the businesses we were being sold to were never up for discussion.

So when we asked about the HP hardware sized hole in the Morse business case our concerns were brushed away. The same thing happened when fingers were pointed at the 2e2 debt problem.

Our businesswas far from perfect but had been ticking over for several years and survived the post-dot com slump. It never thrived within Morse and finally sank once paired with 2e2.

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Backstabbing by another name

I was TUPE'd as part of a UK FTSE 100 firm wanting to offshore its IT to an Indian tech firm. Immediately we all lost our final salary pensions and were signed up for a standard alternative one that offered far worse terms. We were all also thrown out of the employees' sharesave scheme, losing the chance to buy shares at a discount.

Within days of the transfer we were all told we were 'at risk of redundancy' and asked to train our (cheaper) Indian replacements. These people were allegedly paid the same as us although their compulsory bed-and-board deductions while they were in the UK apparently made up a significant proportion of their salaries...

It's hard not to assume that the whole process was intended just so that our former employer could deny laying people off to the press - "No, guv, not us. We TUPE'd them. We're nice and ethical!"

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Anonymous Coward

my experience

I was TUPE'd 2.5 times in as many years - first transfer fell apart because the new provider walked away after learning about the pension liability they would inherit. We were then quickly transferred to the #2 on the list, whose contract lasted a whole year before they fell out with the client and had their services terminated. It was then announced that in 3 weeks we would be working for #1 company.

To be fair, all 3 companies did their best (as far as I could see) when it came to t's and c's, but it was a mess when it came to pensions and holidays. The majority of my co-workers had a final salary pension that they had taken from our original energy sector employer, some were protected at privatisation and some weren't. Some had money purchase schemes, so you ended up with 3 different groups with different solutions. The arguments and bad will still exist today in some quarters. One employer did holidays in hours and the others in days so you can imagine the spreadsheet hell that was getting everyone converted (and happy)!

I would agree with the getting organised. The majority of employees were in the union, but those outside had to organise, elect reps and they had to do the hard negotiating with the bosses themselves. The last transfer ended up in legal action due to insufficient consultation (the TUPE regs state you must do a minimum period of consultation prior to transfer - ours happened after) and the non-union people had to organise (and fund) that themselves, getting lawyers and barristers etc.

Overall my personal experience has been positive - I am now in a much larger, IT-focussed company which has already opened up opportunities for those of us who want them, but for a period of approx 2 solid years it was very stressful and not something to wish for again.

Until my current employer falls out with the client....

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Tough situation

I think that there are two distinct TUPE scenarios, corporate take-over and out-sourcing.

If another firm buys out your firm part of the reasoning behind the deal will be in reducing overheads via economies of scale. You might be asked to move offices etc but the new entity will shed management before the skilled staff who can merge the parallel systems.

Being TUPE'd to an outsourcer is a wholly different propostion. The original firm is doing this to save money and that money will be coming out of your pocket. Say good bye to bonuses, final salary pensions and payrises.

In the second scenario, if you are going to stay post-TUPE you have to be enthusiastic and approach it as an opportunity. Your current role is not going to get any better, so look to move internally and get some new skills that the outsourcing firm thinks that it needs and is willing to pay for.

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Anonymous Coward

Only part of the story

I've been TUPE'd a few times. It is no biggie. Of more concern is the enforced change of contracts; sign the new contract, or you've just make yourself redundant. eg - http://www.expressandstar.com/news/politics/2012/07/24/wolverhampton-council-in-huge-overhaul-of-staff-contracts/

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/council-staff-told-sign-new-1894131

No defence against it, and has been happening in councils up and down the country over the last couple of years. And yes, I was a union rep for a few years until a bout of issues led me to a mental breakdown. (yes, I know you have to be part-mental to work in IT in the first place ... the contract changes just finished the job off.)

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Anonymous Coward

TUPE'd then SHAFTED

I was TUPE'd from TRANSCO to ICL (which became Fujitsu). FJ had a five year contract with Transco and all was well until near the end. Suddenley, up popped ADRIAN GARSIDE GIBSON who offered to take on 24 people in my group. He promised big things, like BMWs and half year sabaticals. We were sceptical but were told we had no choice by FJ. They said "Consultation is not Negotiation". So we all transferd and things were OK initially. Transco had also sold ADRIAN GARSIDE GIBSON a contract to decommission some equipment and provided him with about £1m to do it. Once this job was complete, he disappeared, leaving us all behind with just an email. Most of us had lots of service years and would have been due BIG redundancy payments - which FJ saved by getting rid of us. It turned out that FJ hadn't much idea who ADRIAN GARSIDE GIBSON was, as discovery for a court case bought to light some dodgy dealings in his past. We were successful in an employment tribunal (but the tax payer paid - not Gibson) we tried to sue FJ for the lack of dilligence in the TUPE but UNITE backed out at the last minute.

If anyone mentions TUPE to you.....run a mile (If ADRIAN GARSIDE GIBSON is involved)

Regards, Rich

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Mk4

Lasted 5 years ... death of a thousand cuts

I got TUPEd from an industry job to an IT service provider. One thing about TUPE was that it enabled the IT SP to ignore the handover contract signed by my old employer and the new. We were supposed to get regular pay rises but never got them - the new employer always said that they were only obligated to deliver an existing equivalent package. They even tried to say that it mean't they were not allowed to offer an increase in remuneration. You can argue with an HR department bod all you like (I did) but in the end you have to get a lawyer or shutup and do something more constructive than waste your time on legal shenanigans with a a company that doesn't want you.

I like some of the other comments - treating it like a massively extended notice period in retrospect would have been the best thing to do (a year at most). 5 years was too much - and left me and a couple of others saying "all the good people left already - what does that make us! :-)". Now I've moved I can see how far down I fell and I'm going to have to spend at least a couple of years hard work getting back to the skill level I used to be at.

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Anonymous Coward

You say that pensions aren't included, but what if the pension is included in the contract?

For example my contract with Old Employer had a standard 5% EE + 5% ER pension written into the contract.

New Employer has a crappy 3% EE + 3% ER pension.

They have TRIED forcing everyone onto the new contract, but I refused. (I thought about signing it and then declaring it void since you can't sign away your TUPE rights).

Since the pension is in the old contract shouldn't it still be protected by TUPE.

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Anonymous Coward

If I remember correctly TUPE doesn't guarantee like for like conditions. If the new employer doesn't offer the same benefit, be it pension contributions (even if it's in your contract) or subsidised travel (or in my case a flex system to purchase additional holidays) then as long as they offer an alternative or compensation there isn't much you can do. Your new employer should have provided you with a statement of all the benefits and conditions you had with your old employer, and how they were going to provide them (or not as the case may be). I guess it'd be up to you to prove that what they were offering wasn't equivalent to what you had

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My experience

Most of us were marginally better off on the new contracts we were bullied into, I mean offered (except for the loss of some great travel benefits) however there were 5 people who were offered new contracts losing around 10,000 per year for a one off 3,000 payment if they signed their 'new shiny' contracts but they declined and said they'd stick with their TUPE contracts. All were summarily dissmissed and then offered a 30grand payment now or the chance to fight it out in court ~(which they would have won but who can wait with no money coming in) so all took the money. This was 2008 when things really stared to get bad. All took about a year to get another job.

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Sometimes TUPE does work to your advantage

I've been TUPE-ed twice, in 2007 and 2012. In both cases I was working for smallish IT companies that got gobbled up by huge ones. Both times I was amongst the staff they wanted to keep, and both times it played out the same way in terms of benefits.

The small companies provided rather minimal benefit packages, but pretty good pay to make up for it. Once we got acquired our pay couldn't be cut, but our benefits improved significantly because the big boys tend to have decent pension schemes and so on that apply across all UK employees.

Not representative by the looks of the comments so far, but it does happen.

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Gold badge

You guys are lucky.

You guys are lucky. Here in the US? No rights whatsoever. You are transferred, nothing is guaranteed. The only IT union I know of here is in Las Vegas, so that doesn't apply here. If your small company is being bought out, this is probably good for you. Otherwise? Not so much.

Outsourcing? Heh, the outsourcing and temp agencies here are one and the same. The company holds on to at least 75% of what they are paid, and then provide a pittance of benefits. (When i worked a while as a temp, I had a few vacation days -- unpaid -- and an offer for me to pay for worthless health insurance* (they wouldn't chip in a penny) so they could technically say they offered insurance.)

*How worthless was the offered insurance? $1,000 deductable, then it'd only cover the NEXT $1,000. No coverage for glasses, medicine, or dental coverage. I think it even exempted hospital stays. It was so poor, when I looked at the terms it was actually PHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE to get back more in covered medical treatment than you were paying them in insurance premiums.

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Anonymous Coward

Stuffed like a turkey

Expect to be stuffed, and you will probably fair well. For most average employees chances are that the reason you are being TUPEd is that the new employer is an outsourcer. The way outsourcers make it pay and how it is sold to your ex-employer is basically the same thing:

Presentation to your Directors:

You are not an IT organisation, focus your energy on core business

If you get rid of staff it decreases head count and direct costs (think of the bonuses and share value!)

Your current IT costs are 5m a year, we can do it for 3m year, over a 5 year contract that is a 10m saving! Plus you will make savings on hardware if you buy through us (economies of scale, blah, blah)

How they make money:

They transfer you in on current terms

Make the customer work under new rules (whereby every change to the service now costs)

You then get asked by your previous colleagues to fix stuff, that you now cant do without a change request, and have to be awakward and tell them you cant help them

The cost for the customer goes from 3m flat cost a year, 3m + 2m in changes

After 6 months you will be asked to move to a different part of the organisation (to help you grow/integrate)

You will train up some indian/chinese/russian staff on what you do before you move on

They will find out to do what you were doing (in my case managing 11 projects) they need 3 or 4 new resources, but apparently this is still profitable (those workers are not paid any less guv)

You will then be shoved in some hell hole, at the opposite end of the country to where you live, essentially making you wnat to leave.

So the broad mechanism service providers use is:

1) Take contract on at 3m

2) TUPE staff in

3) Charge 2m for changes per year

4) Move TUPE staff out to hell holes, replace with cheap labour

5) Offer Voluntary Redundancy every 3 years

6) Shed 80% of all TUPE'd staff

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