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Property Manager Can Proceed With Unfair Dismissal Claim

In a case which provides some guidance on the tangled interplay between TUPE transfers and unfair dismissal, a commercial property manager has convinced the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) that she had sufficient continuity of service to pursue her compensation claim.

The woman had worked for the company that dismissed her for only 10 months prior to her departure, so had to rely on the preceding period of about two years during which she had worked for a previous employer in order to establish the required continuity of employment.

During the latter part of her previous employment, she had exclusively managed a portfolio of commercial properties in Holland. She had moved to her new employer after it took over responsibility for that portfolio. On that basis an Employment Tribunal (ET) found that there had been a service provision change of the type covered by TUPE and that the requisite continuity of employment had therefore been established.

Dismissing the later employer’s appeal against that ruling, the EAT found that the ET had correctly focused on the nature of the woman’s work immediately prior to the transfer. Her previous employer’s ‘primary purpose’ was that she should manage the Dutch portfolio by herself and her assignment to that exclusive role had not been merely temporary or a matter of happenstance.

There was, the EAT ruled, nothing perverse in the ET’s finding that she had been assigned to a specific task by her previous employer and that she had continued to perform that same role subsequent to the transfer. The ruling enabled the woman to proceed with her unfair dismissal claim.