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Use of new technology ‘didn’t remove TUPE responsibility’

A company's decision to use new technology to bring one of its services back in house did not remove its responsibility under TUPE to hire workers affected by the change.

That was the decision of the Employment Tribunal in the case of Anglo Beef Processors UK and a meat inspector, Mr Longland.

Anglo hired an independent contractor, Meat & Livestock Commercial Services Ltd (MLCS), to classify its carcasses. Mr Longland was a key worker on that contract.

His duties included weighing, marking and recording information about carcasses in an abattoir. Much of the work was manual but there was also some use of video imaging analysis.

Anglo then decided to end the contract and bring the service back in house. The process would be streamlined using new technology.

Mr Longland claimed the service would remain "fundamentally the same" as before and he was therefore entitled under the TUPE regulations to have his employment transferred to Anglo.

The tribunal ruled in his favour.

It held that although Anglo was introducing new technology to improve the service, the work still required a person with Mr Langland's qualifications to be present to oversee the operation, calibrate equipment and to manually classify carcasses when the machinery didn't function properly.

The judge said: "I considered that there was really very little room for doubt that the activities carried out by (Anglo Beef) after the alleged transfer was fundamentally the same as that carried out by (MLCS) prior to the alleged transfer. 

"The activity was that of classifying carcases so as to calculate the amount that farmers could be paid. In my view, it was completely irrelevant whether that classification was done manually or electronically."

The Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld that decision.

For further advice on any of the issues raised in this article, or for employment law advice more generally, please contact JPP Law on 020 3468 3064 or email info@jpplaw.co.uk

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