No service provision change for task of short-term duration

In Liddell's Coaches v Cook, the EAT has explored how you assess whether TUPE applies to contracts of short-term duration. 

TUPE does not apply in the outsourcing context (i.e. where a person either outsources an activity, “in-sources” it or changes the identity of the contractor) if the activities relate to a “single specific event or task of short-term duration”. 

Clarifying how you interpret this condition, the EAT said two helpful things.

Firstly, TUPE does not apply if a contract is for a specific event, regardless of whether the event itself is of short-term or long-term duration. 

Secondly, you look at the facts and particular circumstances to assess whether a task is of short-term duration. In Liddell’s Coaches, the EAT found that a contract to provide transport for a period of one year to cover a special set of circumstances was “short-term”.  This was because similar contracts of the same type were usually awarded for periods of between three and five years.

This is welcome guidance on a condition which was previously unclear.  It eliminates the theory that “short-term duration” meant a particular time period (for example, less than 12 months).  It further comforts those contractors who provide emergency or interim services that TUPE is not intended to transfer the employees of the previous contractor into their employment.

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