An apparently straightforward sale of a nursing home left the seller with a large bill for protective awards after failing to arrange for the election of employee representatives, as required by the Transfer of Undertakings Regulations (TUPE). The seller appealed, arguing that there was no obligation to inform representatives where the changes resulting from the transfer were purely administrative. The Employment Appeal Tribunal disagreed, confirming that the obligation to give information to elected employee representatives is triggered by the fact of the transfer, even if it will not result in any significant changes for the staff involved. Simply giving the information to the employees direct did not fulfil this obligation.
However the EAT agreed that the tribunal had been too harsh in making the maximum award of 13 weeks' pay in these circumstances, and reduced it to seven weeks' pay. It also ruled that the tribunal should have made the buyer of the business jointly and severally liable for this award. How it should be apportioned between them would have to be sorted out in the ordinary courts, if no provision had been made in the sale agreement.