Contract cleaning services and TUPE - a case study to help SMEs make informed decisions

By HR Savvy

06 Feb 2018

A short case study by HR Savvy to help SMEs make informed decisions about contracted-in services.

Does your business outsource certain facilities management activities to third parties?

It is common practice that activities like contract cleaning and site security services are outsourced.

If your business outsources in this way, then the lessons in this case study are worthy of noting.

A longstanding client contacted HR Savvy with a query about a cleaner working for them on site from an outsourced provider.

The cleaners' performance, attitude and behaviours were not great. She had worked with them for 5 days a week for several years.

Rather than report this poor service to the cleaning company directly, our client had made an earlier decision to end the contract and source a new supplier. The intention being that this would be less confrontation and ‘nicer’ for the cleaner.

They were then surprised when the new supplier confirmed that the very same cleaner would be transferring to their employment under the TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment) regulations and they would continue to have the same cleaner at their office.

Surely this can’t be right they asked?

We have changed suppliers to get rid of this cleaner so why do we still have to keep this same person?

We asked some questions. Was this cleaner assigned to you as their only or main client? Was the cleaners main activity to carry out cleaning for you on site? The answer to both was yes.

The client was surprised to learn that under the TUPE Regulations, where there is what is referred to as a "service provision change", the cleaner’s employment automatically transfers to the new provider.

The view that her performance is poor was irrelevant to the TUPE process and our suggestion was to raise the poor performance as an issue with the new provider and request that they should send another cleaner or manage the performance issue with their employee.

Key message

If you have a concern with a service provider and a member of their staff, don’t assume that changing provider will solve the problem. Instead raise the issues with the provider first, provide evidence where possible and tackle it head on.

TUPE is a particularly complex area of Employment Law and Nicola Scott our Employment Law Specialist is very experienced in TUPE.

If you think you may have an upcoming challenge that may have a TUPE risk associated with it, contact HR Savvy or book onto one of our monthly drop-in sessions for an initial conversation with Nicola.

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