Dealing with the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) regulations is a large part of the HR team's work at the drug and alcohol charity Addaction, according to its HR director, Guy Pink.
This is because Addaction is used to gaining - and losing - contracts with public bodies, which run for three years on average, but can be as short as one year or reviewed on a rolling basis for up to seven years. As a result, teams of staff move are moved frequently from one employer to another.
"I spoke about Tupe at three conferences last year and most delegates who came to listen did so because they were experiencing Tupe for the first time," says Pink. "There is a real sense that it is a new area and many HR practitioners have no experience of it. It is quite process-driven, with many forms and deadlines. A clear project plan can help to keep within the legal timeframes."
Pink says that three months is about right for conducting consultations with staff, drafting letters and making sure information is accurate, but commissioners might expect these things to be done faster. He says it is important to clarify information on each staff member before the transfer happens, because it is much more difficult to do so afterwards.
Working closely with outgoing and incoming staff when contracts are lost or gained is equally important, says Pink. "It is certainly not the case that because we have lost the contract we do not have to worry about the staff team," he says. "We try to treat outgoing staff well. If they want HR to accompany them to one-to-one consultations, we will be there. For every 10 employees we take on, one will have worked for us previously. If we win back a contract, we want staff to be excited about coming back."
The HR team places importance on getting the early interactions with new staff right and presenting to staff as soon as possible after a contract has been awarded. "If we say we'll do something, we do it, and that builds trust," says Pink. "Our mantra in this situation is to under-promise and over-deliver."
On the first day of their employment, staff are given a "good welcome and clear introduction", he says, so they understand what their future with the charity, which employs about 1,200 staff, will be like. "We transfer in nurses who have worked for the NHS for 30 years and have been defined by that employment," says Pink. "It will not have been their decision to move to the voluntary sector, so there might be concern and resentment. We work hard to highlight the benefits of a voluntary body - fewer layers of bureaucracy, for example, and the agility and flexibility that allows people to follow their good ideas."
Workshops are held for new managers to give them a clear view of how Addaction operates. Pathfinders - staff who know the charity and its workings very well - are sent to new services for a month to assist with such seemingly trivial matters as filling out expenses claims. They also support managers through the transition.
"We find that the little stuff can make the biggest difference," says Pink. "It is important to put time, effort and energy into supporting people who are moving from one organisation to another."