Vigilance after the transfer
After a transfer, it is just as important to know what your rights are, so you can act collectively to safeguard these rights with your new academy employer.
If your school or college has already become an academy and you believe that full consultation has not taken place, contact your branch secretary or NEU contact as it may be possible to bring an Employment Tribunal claim.
If your school or college has already become an academy, or your academy has transferred to an established multi-academy trust, and your new employer is now trying to change your terms and conditions, contact your branch secretary or NEU contact urgently.
Beware of subtle attacks on TUPE rights!
Where a two-tier set of conditions develops, it is important to maintain vigilance to protect the terms of those employees who transferred to the new employer. Some academies have attempted to undermine transferred teachers’ terms and conditions by “harmonising” the two contracts. Often this has been attempted through individual conversations or letters to employees.
Harmonising the terms and conditions of staff who transferred before 31 January 2014 would be unlawful. Such “harmonisation” would be a “transfer” related reason even several years after the transfer. In any event, an employer could not impose changes to terms and conditions without agreement – whether under TUPE or not – it must consult and negotiate first.
Employers are entitled, however, to seek to negotiate changes to terms and conditions deriving from collective agreements where the transfer took place on or after 31 January 2014. The changes will be lawful provided they are agreed, they are not less favourable overall for the affected staff and they come into effect at least a year after the transfer.
In practice, for any new terms to be no less favourable, employers would have to offer a very valuable package of terms and conditions in return for giving up, for example, the Burgundy Book maternity or sick pay scheme.
It is far easier to resist proposed variations to contracts of employment if members act collectively. If at any time you find out that management is approaching members about signing new contracts, you should act immediately.
- Contact your branch secretary or NEU contact
- If possible, call an emergency meeting of members
- Explain that they aren’t compelled to sign new contracts, and that if everyone acts together in saying “no”, you are likely to be successful
- Consider drafting a letter with members to management, stating that as a union group you reject the proposed changes.
Acting collectively in such a way will give individual members confidence (especially if they feel as though management is pressurising them), and it will also send a strong, clear message to management.