Career coach: Tackling TUPE contracts

Anne
Chiverton is personnel officer for Charlton House Caterers. In addition to her
general personnel duties, a significant part of her role is implementing the
transfer of undertakings protection of employment (TUPE) legislation.

And
unlike some HR staff who may deal with a few TUPE contracts, the success of
Charlton House has ensured Chiverton has plenty to deal with. The workforce has
grown from five staff to 1,200 in eight years, and she juggles more than 100
separate contracts.

“When
I started, I had about 60 per cent of the contracts we have now – the growth
has been phenomenal,” says Chiverton.

“If
someone’s sick, we have to check whether they’re TUPE. At the moment, the
computer system doesn’t allow us to, so we literally go back to the hard copies
of the TUPE details, and see what the person’s entitled to.”

Despite
her hectic schedule, Chiverton still enjoys what she does. “It is fun, it keeps
you on your toes. Some of the contracts are much of a muchness, but then you
might get a contract where the employee is entitled to six months sick, and
another with no sick pay in the first two years – it’s very diverse.

“On
a day-to-day basis, I could be doing anything from attending a grievance
meeting, helping unit managers with disciplinary letters, or collating figures
for the massive amount of reports that we have to do,” Chiverton adds.

“But
I could be doing something as simple as replacing a mobile phone that someone’s
lost. It varies so much. Really, I’m there as a support mechanism for the
unit.”

So
what kind of challenges does she come up against with such an extensive TUPE
element to her work?

“We
took on a company in April which was twenty-four new units opening in one day.
A couple of weeks before, we got the TUPE information of more than 100 staff,
all on different contracts. We were trying to find out who was TUPE-ing over,
who wasn’t. It was absolutely manic,” she says.

Chiverton
also relies on professional help for tricky legal requirements.

“I
go on the information I’ve got, and if I’m stuck, I’ll go to personnel law
advisers.

“In
about a month’s time, we’ll be TUPE-ing over some staff who are paid a split
payroll. Fifty per cent of their job is facilities and 50 per cent is catering.
Somehow, we are going to work out how we’re going to pay the staff, because the
facilities section is going elsewhere. With something like that, I’ll always
seek advice,” she says.

And
her advice for other HR staff? “Be willing to learn, and pay attention to
detail, because it’s people you are dealing with,” she says.

“Keeping
up-to-speed with current legislation is also very important. It can be
difficult when you haven’t got much time to sit and read things, but there are
systems in place to find things out for you.”

Chiverton
also believes strongly in maintaining a small-company approach to staff. “Every
single member of staff meets the founders of the company. We get Easter eggs,
and every employee gets a birthday card. We don’t want our staff to feel they
are just numbers.

Chiverton’s
CV

2001  Personnel officer and quality manager, PA to
logistics/marketing/managing director, North American (UK) Logistics

1999  Personnel team leader, Medico Legal
Reporting Services

1997  Personnel officer/PA, Reading Buses

1994  PA to South Centre resource director,
Cunningham Resources

1990  PA to commercial director/personnel,
Associated National Carriers

1986  Administration officer, Reading Borough
Council

Further
education

Reading
College of Technology

BTEC
National Diploma Business and Administration.

Typing
I, II, III,

Administration
Studies/Information Technology

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