Introduction: TUPE and all that

Ideal Cleaning Services Ltd. established in 1946 was one of the first companies to offer contract cleaning services in the UK, and throughout the years they have strived to keep ahead of the game by maintaining its principles of customer service, openness and value for money. Of course the market has change tremendously throughout the years, and the introduction of new legislation, such as TUPE has added new complications for buyers looking to go out into the market to find a new supplier.

However apart from knowing the legislative principles of TUPE, buyers need to have an understanding of the impact these regulations have on themselves, the incoming supplier and how to ensure they maximise the positive aspects of any transfer.

What is TUPE?

The Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations (TUPE) protects employees’ terms and conditions of employment when a business/contract is transferred from one owner/company to another. Employees of the previous owner/company when the business/contract changes hands automatically become employees of the new employer/company on the same terms and conditions.

It’s as if their employment contracts had originally been made with the new employer/contractor. Their continuity of service and any other rights are all preserved. Both old and new employers/contractors are required to inform and consult employees affected directly or indirectly by the transfer.

These regulations first came into effect in 1981 and were significantly amended in 2006 to give enhanced regulation of the transfer of employees where the provision of a service is involved. In January 2013 the UK government issued a consultation on proposed amendments to the TUPE regulations, the new regulations originally scheduled to be announced in July 2013 and are now expected in September 2013. Ideal will post information on how this will affect the transfer of cleaning contracts once the proposed changes are confirmed.

More information on the 2006 regulations can be found at:-…/tupe-a-guide-to-the-2006-regulations

Ensuring a smooth transfer

One of the key changes being proposed is the removal of the requirement for transferors (exiting contractor) to provide Employee Liability Information to transferees (incoming contractor) at least 14 days before the transfer but allowing the parties to negotiate arrangements for transferring information themselves. This change means that it is even more important for buyers to ensure that any service provision contract contains terms and conditions which include a requirement to provide TUPE information within a time frame that suits their buying regime. Given that the proposed amendment to Regulation 13 of TUPE (dealing with the obligation to inform and consult) will only require the transferor to provide such information which assists the parties in complying with their duties under that regulation, it is important that any information necessary to effect a smooth tendering process is also made available when required.

Getting the most out of any transfer

Many buyers and those overseeing the operation of contracted in cleaning services often feel that TUPE legislation restricts their ability to change/improve cleaning efficiencies and standards. All too often, we hear the comment that one or more of the cleaners is no good, but they have to transfer, so what’s the point in changing the cleaning contractor. Therefore it is vitally important that when a change of contractor is contemplated that the following important key elements are fully evaluated.

Adding value to the Cleaning Staff

The people conducting the cleaning are the most important asset in any service provision. They are the individuals who provide the service, and are the key to achieving the standards desired. Therefore with any change of Contractor there must be a focus on assessing the incoming service providers’ intentions on evaluating the capabilities, motivation and training of the cleaners, and that they can demonstrate clear and effective management processes which will evaluate, monitor and improve cleaner performance. Key elements include:-

  1. An introductory interview/consultation with transferring staff to introduce them to their new employer.
  2. Where new staff are to be employed, that there is a documented recruitment and selection policy and procedure, that provides for a consistent approach, with equal opportunity to ensure selection will be on the basis of merit, that is, the ability to do the job. Key features of such should include, role profiles for each job, outlining key requirements and competencies of the role; publicly advertising the post; ensuring applicants always complete an application form, are short listed for interview   and references taken.
  3. A formal induction process informing the cleaners of the management processes, policies and procedures including Health & Safety, Method Statements, Risk Assessments, COSHH, Aspects and Impacts,  and Process Training
  4. A review of the cleaning specification and an assessment of the cleaners understanding of its specific requirements.
  5. Introduction of routine individual cleaner performance reviews. Where the cleaning standards are assessed in the areas in which they clean, along with an appraisal of their attitude, attendance/time keeping, appearance and general understanding of the work processes is made. These written assessments are discussed with the individuals concerned any improvements and/or corrective actions, training needs identified and agreed and timescales set to ensure all issues are closed out. This process should be on-going, conducted at least quarterly and should also identify good and/or excellent performance, the use of a reward scheme could also further incentivise performance improvement.

In summary if you are looking to change cleaning provider, ensure that any new contractor will invest, time, interest, and management in adding value to your cleaners, and improvements will ensue.

Finally, it must not be forgotten that any investment in improving individual cleaner performance will only be achieved if the cleaners are given adequate support by supervisors and management, that robust management procedures are in place and the cleaners provided with the correct materials and equipment to conduct the work.

Stephen Hibberd

Author Stephen Hibberd

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