The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has decided that an employer was in breach of contract when it insisted that a transferred member of staff should move to a new office, even though it was only two miles away. The EAT said that the mobility clause in her contract of employment could only be invoked to move her to another office maintained by the previous employer. Even though there had been a TUPE transfer, the clause did not apply to a new location from which her previous employer had not operated.
In a wider context, this case illustrates that the main aim of TUPE is to preserve employees' existing rights. Even though TUPE says that transferred employees' contracts take effect as if originally made with the transferee, that does not mean that they will necessarily be interpreted in the same way as the contracts of the transferee's other staff, even if their written terms and conditions look exactly the same. So a clause which said that the employee was required to move to "other locations within the Trust" was interpreted as referring back to the NHS Trust where she had started work, and not to the NHS Trust to which she had been transferred.
For the full decision (Tapere v South London and Maudsley NHS Trust) click here.