Rights at work: tips for transferring

08 March 2019

When swapping employers, make sure you keep your NHS terms and conditions and NHS pension for yourself and for future employees, writes Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe, Unite national officer for health.

Transfer iStock

April is the cruellest month, poet TS Eliot lamented in The Waste Land — and indeed this April many community practitioners must endure the prospect of changing employers. This is down to the 2012 Health and Social Care Act, which shifted the commissioning of many community public services in England to local authorities and made competitive tendering the norm.

Of course, the NHS continues to run many 0 to 19 children’s and young people’s health services, but a growing number of private or not-for-profit organisations are now running these services, and many local authorities are taking these services in-house.

Unite-CPHVA has its concerns about what is happening, and want to protect affected members and ensure that they do not suffer detriments and see their service maligned. On the right are four tips to stay on top when transferring employers.

Our role is to help all community practitioners have a strong voice at work and realise that we all have a role in building a better, more confident union. 

1. Don’t panic – organise and stay united

There will be a consultation process during which your existing and future employers will consult you and outline the measures they may take after the transfer.

Unfortunately, some workplaces and employers do not have locally accredited workplace representatives, which makes the consultation process more individual than collective. This gives the employers the chance to play ‘divide and rule’. Successful campaigning and organising around the transfer of employer will only happen if workplace representatives are in place. The regional officer or the lead professional officer is employed by the union to support workplace representation and activity, but cannot be the eyes and ears in the workplace that is needed, or the glue that keeps members and staff united.  

2. Know your rights

While there is no need to be a legal eagle, being aware of your rights are important.

Employee transfers are governed by TUPE (Transfer of Undertaking Protection of Employees) legislation; this gives protection of terms and conditions to employees who transfer to a new employer on the day of transfer and means the new employer cannot change pay and terms and conditions in advance of the transfer. In addition, a very useful document to use would be the NHS Social Partnership Forum staff transfer guide at bit.ly/staff_transfer_guide \

3. Secure new agreements with the new employer

It is essential that a new recognition agreement with the union, with proper agreements on facility time for workplace representatives, is secured as soon as possible. This solidifies employment relations between the union and the employer to enable communication and dialogue on matters that affect the workforce.

4. Professional code and using it

The NMC code is a useful aid to protect services and standards with the new employer. The role of the trade union should be to monitor caseloads, ensure that all employees continue to be trained and develop and that service standards are upheld. It is also the role of the union to stand up and speak out over the running down and decline of community health services to local politicians, commissioners and regulators.


Image credit | iStock