Where a school or college is transferred from one employer to another, the staff, pupils or students and the land and buildings transfer too.
The TUPE regulations alone do not guarantee that rights are protected or that staff have a collective voice in the workplace. Maintaining a collective voice and protecting your rights at work requires collective organisation. It is helpful, however, to view TUPE as a legal framework around which to involve and engage members to act collectively to protect and further their rights.
As soon as you find out that a formal decision to change your employer has been made or that TUPE consultations are to begin, you and your school or college group should take the following steps. Talking together and gathering information will help you prepare for the transfer.
- Contact your local NEU branch secretary.
- Elect a rep if necessary.
- Talk to reps in other unions.
- Arrange a meeting with your head or principal.
- Get members together.
- Involve members and feed members’ questions back to your head or principal.
- Talk to members in other schools, colleges & chains.
- Get your terms and conditions in writing!
What is TUPE about?
TUPE is shorthand for the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection and Employment) Regulations 2006, a legal framework around which you can involve and engage members to act collectively to protect and advance their rights as they transfer to a new employer.
Your local secretary’s details can be found on the districts and branches pages.
Your local secretary will either ask you to remain in contact with them or they will refer you to another colleague within the NEU. If your school or college is transferring to a multi-academy trust (MAT), your local secretary may share your contact details with an NEU colleague who has responsibility for the MAT.
If, for whatever reason, you are unable to locate your local secretary’s details or to make contact with your local office, please contact your regional office.
You will be working alongside your branch or other colleagues within the NEU throughout the transfer process. Give them all the information you have and keep in touch with them – they will be able to provide invaluable help and support.
If you don’t have a rep at the moment, you are urged to get members together to elect one.
Once you have discussed the issues with your local NEU branch secretary or other NEU contact, you will find it useful to share information with reps in our sister unions in your school or college before meeting your head or principal.
Get in touch with the NASUWT teaching reps and any Unison, GMB, Unite support staff reps in your school or college. If you do not know who the reps are, ask your colleagues, your school or college office or your branch secretary.
Joint union work before the start of consultation
You might not be able to meet formally with your counterparts in the other unions, but do try to come to an agreed position with them on how you will approach your head teacher or principal about the transfer process and its implications for all staff.
Try to come to an agreed position on how you will handle formal information and consultation meetings.
You could agree how to divide up practical tasks, for example:
- one rep could be the official note taker.
- another rep could keep copies of all relevant literature.
At a national level, there is a consensus amongst the education unions on academy status and how to approach TUPE consultations. If, however, you think there are divergent opinions that cannot be talked through, you should consult with your members and branch secretary or NEU contact in an attempt to come to a suitable outcome.
Keep your branch secretary and other NEU colleagues informed of discussions with representatives in the other unions.
Working together with sister unions strengthens the position of all employees.