The Salvation Army Trustee Company v Bahi & Others UKEAT/0120/16
Coventry City Council provided a range of services to homeless people through contracts with numerous providers. The claimants were employed by a charity, CCL, and they worked with the Council to provide 'accommodation based support' for men and women. The Council decided to get rid of the separate contracts and merge the provision of homelessness and ex-offender support through a single point of access. The Salvation Army Trustee Company (SAT) were awarded the contract.
The question here was whether the activities that had been carried out by the claimants before the service provision change were fundamentally the same as after. SAT argued that there were many differences, for example SAT used two large hostels whereas CCL had 'dispersed accommodation' in ten houses in multiple locations. The Employment judge found that the activities were fundamentally the same and therefore TUPE applied.
SAT appealed, however it was dismissed with the judge concluding that 'activities' should be given their ordinary, everyday meaning but avoiding too narrow a focus in deciding what the activities were. In this case the activities were the provision of accommodation based support for homeless men and women.
This case is another example of the broad interpretation that courts tend to adopt when considering the application of TUPE. It demonstrates their reluctance to become too technical and preference for a purposive approach. The decision is consistent with our experience of the Tribunal's approach in recent years and it is not easy to sidestep the TUPE net.