An employment tribunal has considered the TUPE implications where a professional services firm (in this case a PR agency) loses a client. TUPE introduced the new concept of a ‘service provision change’.

As a result, TUPE can now apply to the professions in certain circumstances - although this is only really likely where staff work primarily for one dedicated client team. In this case the PR agency lost a client who transferred to a new agency. The claimant had worked mainly for the one client and claimed to have transferred to the new business under TUPE.

For there to be ‘service provision change’, and accordingly a TUPE transfer, the claimant needed to show that there was an ‘organised grouping of employees’ whose ‘principal purpose’ was carrying on the activity for the client.

The tribunal confirmed that an ‘organised grouping’ can consist of just one employee. As to whether the ‘principal purpose’ of the organised grouping was the provision of PR services to the new agency, the tribunal looked only at the claimant (having found that she herself compromised the organised grouping). It found that her main job was the provision of services to the client so that her employment has transferred under TUPE to the new agency.

Hunt v Storm Communications Ltd and others