Jackson v Computershare Inventor Services plc (Court of Appeal)
Mrs Jackson had been employed by Ci (UK) Ltd since 1999, when her employment was transferred to Computershare in June 2004 by way of a TUPE transfer. When her employment was later terminated she was entitled to benefit from Computershare’s severance scheme. The scheme provided better terms to those who joined Computershare before 1 March 2002, as opposed to those who joined after that date.
Computershare paid Mrs Jackson severance on the basis that she had joined after 1 March 2002, bearing in mind that the transfer had taken place two years later. Mrs Jackson claimed that this was a breach of contract on the basis that her continuous employment, protected by TUPE, dated back to 1999, when she started with Ci. An Employment Tribunal agreed.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal and Court of Appeal both disagreed with the Employment Tribunal. They held that TUPE could not be used to confer additional rights on an employee or to improve her situation. TUPE only replaced Computershare for Ci as the employer and the previous obligations of Ci to Mrs Jackson continued.
The scheme specifically referred to the point when an employee “joined” Computershare. Even the Employment Tribunal had found that Mrs Jackson had only joined the company in June 2004. If the scheme had been drafted differently, by only referring to employees with continuous employment over a certain number of years the decision might well have been very different.