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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
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I work as a manager in a GP Practice. Our contract cleaners are poor and I wish to replac

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I work as a manager in a GP Practice. Our contract cleaners are poor and I wish to replace them. They insist that under their T&Cs "the contract shall be for an initial period of one year from the date of commencement and shall renew annually thereafter until determined by either party giving to the other 3 months’ notice prior to the renewal date". This seems to mean therefore that we may not 'sack' them until July of next year - because the contract began in July several years ago. Can I get rid of them sooner? Is their contract (T&Cs) watertight?
Hello, my name is***** am a solicitor on this site and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. How long have they worked there for?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

End of June 2012.

I presume they are not your employees, rather they work on a self employed basis? Also are you going to get a replacement company to do the cleaning?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

We have a contract with a cleaning company to clean 3 of our sites. they employ their own staff. We do not employ any cleaning staff on our payroll.

Yes - we are already in talks with an alternative contractor.

Thank you for your response. I will review the relevant information and will get back to you as soon as possible. Please do not respond to this message as it will just push your question to the back of the queue and you may experience unnecessary delays. Thank you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Why have I not received an answer to my question? Please advise.

sorry i will get back to you with my advice ASAP
Many thanks for your patience. There are two separate issues here – one is the termination of the current contract you have and the other is what will happen once you have engaged replacement cleaners.
So starting with the termination of the current contract, it does state that it would renew annually from July until terminated by either party giving 3 months’ notice prior to the renewal date. This means that it should terminate on the renewal date as long as the required notice is given. So at first sight it would appear that you can only give notice if it is done at 3 months before the renewal date, with the contract terminating on the renewal date.
However, that does not mean you would have no option to terminate it earlier if necessary. Firstly, you could terminate it for a breach of contract on their part but it has to be a serious breach. Poor performance would not automatically amount to a breach worthy of immediate termination and you would generally be expected to give them the opportunity to improve before you consider termination. Only after there has been a continuous failure to improve would you be allowed to terminate the contract early.
Secondly, even if you terminate it early when there has been no sufficient breach of contract, it does not mean you would automatically be liable in any way. If you still give them the required notice of 3 months, they should be able to find a replacement client in that time. They cannot sue you unless they have incurred ongoing losses as a result of the early termination. They will have a duty to try and reduce their losses as soon as possible and the most obvious way of doing that is to find a replacement client to fill in the time they spent with you. Only if they have genuinely tried to do so and failed due to issues beyond their control could they try and pursue you for losses but only if you cannot show there was a breach on which you relied on in the first place. They cannot sue you if they have not suffered losses as otherwise it would amount to a penalty and that is unlawful.
The other issue I mentioned is what would happen once you engage a new contractor to do the cleaning work. There is a piece of legislation known as TUPE, which operates when there is a service provision change. So for example you are using the services of a contractor to do the cleaning at your premises and you terminate their contract and engage a new contractor. If the original contractor had dedicated staff who were assigned to clean your premises they would automatically transfer over to the new contractor under this legislation. So you could end up with a new contractor but with the same staff working under them as they would have automatically transferred over when you changed service providers. So bear that in mind as it is a realistic possibility, although as mentioned it would depend on whether there were specific staff assigned to do the cleaning for you.
I trust this has answered your query. I would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating (selecting 3, 4 or 5 starts at the top of the page). If for any reason you are unhappy with my response or if you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me on here and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you
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