I am not a HR professional, just an employee!

The company I work for was merged into another company on 1st May 2004. We were told that this would be done under TUPE.

New contracts were issued to staff on this date, but after reading my contract through at the weekend, I was not happy with some of the changes that have been made to my terms and conditions.

I informed the companies HR representative that I did not wish to sign the new contract as is and preferred to stay on my original contract. The initial response was that they were not prepared to make any changes to the new contract and that if I did not sign I will be deemed to have resigned! Although we are to discuss the issue further at another meeting.

I have read up on the TUPE legislation on the DTI’s website and this is not my understanding of the situation, so I would like to run it by this group and see what everyone else thinks.

My understanding is;

*That on the 1st of May I transferred into the new company on my EXISTING contract(which is exactly what I want to do).

*That I would only be deemed to have resigned if I had said that I did not want to be transferred(which I did not do).

*Now that I am employed by the new company they are trying to UNILATERALLY alter the terms and conditions of my contract to suit them.

*Any such changes to my contract must be by mutual consent only(hence why I am not signing).

*If my employer makes me redundant I have a right to claim unfair dismissal at an employment tribunal.

Is this a correct interpretation of the law or can they force me to sign the new contract? If I refuse can they make me redundant, and if so will I have to work a notice period?

Also, to add to the complexity, one of the clauses in the new contract is to abide by the staff handbook. This is a rather large electronic document that the employer changes at their will. How contractually binding is something in the staff handbook if I signed the contract.


Chris Wedgwood