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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 49755
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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Hello, I have a Contract that includes a company car and personal

Customer Question

Hello, I have a Contract that includes a company car and personal unlimited petrol account but doesn't specify car type. When I joined 4.5 years ago it was a 6yr old Renault Megane. 2 years ago the Company leased a brand new Audi for me. In Sept last year I TUPE transferred to another organisation within the group. It was handled horrendously. No discussion or negotiation. The first I knew of the transfer was an email to ALL employees announcing the change. No changes were made to my terms and conditions of employment or Job Description. My job has since changed quite a bit though. The lease on the Audi is up in two weeks. They have told me its being handed back, and I can have an unused 2yo company renault until its lease runs out in August - and they want to use this time to 're-negotiate' my T&C's of employment to bring me in line with other staff as only 1 other of the 100+ employees has a company car.
Although I've had two 'informal' meetings - nothing has been put in writing to me. 1) Can they 'downgrade' my car during the 1st year of TUPE even though my contract doesn't specify a car type? 2) Can they be making any of these changes during the 1st year since TUPE? 3) Is there anything else I should consider? Many thanks Baz p.s. I work for the adminstrative side of a law firm !
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 4 years ago.
Hello, my name is Ben and it is my pleasure to be able to assist with your question today. Please let me know which changes in particular are you referring to in point 2 of your query?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi Ben, Can they even consider taking away my car during the 1st year after TUPE transfer? I think that there is a qualifying period of 1 yr after transfer when no changes should be made? Also, the upgrade to the Audi was personally authorised by the companies Managing Partner. Can this be seen as a 'downgrade' to salary and a change to T&C's? Having had a brand new Audi 23 months ago - could it be presumed that I assume this is now part of my T&C's?

Many thanks,


Expert:  Ben Jones replied 4 years ago.
Will your salary actually change as a result?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi Ben,
They havent said anything as of yet. I think initailly, by handing the Audi back and giving me the unused Company car - no change to salary - as its already been mentioned that I previously had an 'old' Renaullt Megane. However, if they take the car completely I would expect salary to change - as I also have unlimited personal mileage. They haven't put anything in writing as yet - which makes me slightly suspicious. They have just said that that want to use the period bewtween the time the Audi goes back (two weeks time) and the time the lease expires on the unused Company car to 'renegotiate' my T&C's to bing me "in line" with everyone else.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 4 years ago.
If TUPE applies to a transfer, then the transferring employees will move to the new employer on the same terms they were employed under just before the transfer. Simply put, the new employer will 'step into the shoes' of their old employer. This means the employees will preserve their continuous service with the employer and can expect to transfer their contractual terms and conditions over.

The new employer may sometimes wish to try and change the transferring employees’ terms and conditions of employment. However, under Regulation 4(4) of TUPE any such changes are void, unless the employer can show they were in no way connected to the transfer or if they were required for an economic, technical or organisational reason (ETO reason).

Some employers may try and justify changes by arguing that they are needed due to harmonisation and therefore rely on an ETO reason. However, Government guidance and case law has restricted the application of harmonisation as a genuine reason to amend one’s terms of employment. Harmonisation will only be a valid reason if there is a change in the workforce and this must involve change in the numbers, or possibly functions, of the employees. In practice, relatively few contractual changes would involve such a change in the workforce so harmonisation is unlikely to be used as a justifiable reason.

If the changes are part of a wider reorganisation which has nothing to do with the transfer, then they may be effective. The longer the gap between the TUPE transfer and any reorganisation, the greater the chance that the causal connection will be broken. However, there is no specific period after which it is safe to say that the connection with the TUPE transfer has been broken, as the test is whether the change is connected to the transfer. The mere passing of time does not of itself break the connection. Similarly, there is no period after the transfer within which changes cannot be made - changes can potentially made on day one of the transfer as long as the above criteria are satisfied.

The issue you may face here is showing that the luxury car had become an implied contractual term. It is more likely that a company car term will exist, without going into such specifics as to its make and value, as long as it is reasonable. This is especially true as you have previously enjoyed an older model for a considerably longer period.

Please take a second to leave a positive rating as that is a very important part of our process. Your question will not close and I can continue providing further advice if necessary. Thank you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Many thanks Ben,

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 4 years ago.
You are welcome, kindly leave a positive rating before exiting, thank you