As an employment lawyer and someone who keeps an eye on TUPE I was interested in this latest case. TUPE is the set of regulations that provides for a transfer of employees contracts on a "service provision change". The protection for employees is wide ranging and can apply when contracting out a service, changing providers, and taking a service back "in house".
For the protection to apply the "activities" that the employees are carrying out must be "fundamentally the same" before and after the transfer. How does the introduction of new technology affect this? In this case (involving beef processors) the EAT decided that the moving over from manual analysis to "full imaging analysis" did not alter the underlying nature of the activities of "classification of beef carcasses". This decision is clearly not for the squeamish but follows the recent trend in adopting a broad approach to how activities should be defined and thus applying TUPE.
Technology is often a key factor in service delivery although it seems that the introduction of new technology alone will be insufficient to disapply TUPE. With the recent abolition of Employment Tribunal fees I think we will see an increase in these sorts of cases.
The recent decision on Anglo Beef Processors UK v Longland is the latest TUPE case to confirm the rules on when activities remain fundamentally the same after a transfer.