Change of employer is defined here as an independent provider taking over the contract from an existing NHS employer. An independent provider may be a commercial company such as Virgin Care or Serco Health or a social enterprise such as Bromley Healthcare or Bristol Community Health. All of these will be working towards outcomes set by the commissioners and will need to provide evidence that these have been met.
We are not in a position not offer legal advice if you are placed in this situation. Our aim is to outline possible concerns that may arise from a transfer, and opportunities available to you to deal with any challenges.
Transferring employees across the two organisations
Employees are protected by TUPE – the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations. These regulations are designed to protect the rights of employees in a transfer situation, enabling them to secure the same terms and conditions, with continuity of employment, as they had with their former employer. Pension rights are not so clear –make enquiries with your new employer.
Therefore, the challenge with a change of employer is to anticipate or discuss the likeliest threat, and get your materials and support together in advance.
So, start planning as soon as you receive notice of the process via briefing/email/newsletter.
- contact your union eg RCN, UNISON to alert them to the change in service
- contact your supporting organisation/charity eg MS Trust, Parkinson's UK, Epilepsy Action , Epilepsy Society etc. Check whether they are aware of the situation and talk through what support you want now and what you might want in the future.
- identify anyone else affected
- attend every meeting you can
Type of independent provider
Consider the type of independent provider you are transferring to as this may indicate whether your role is likely to be at risk.
- commercial company - companies are required to produce value for their shareholders, through dividends and rising share prices. Consequently the employer may be looking to cut costs, so there is a risk of downbanding or redundancy and/or redeployment. Follow the steps available through those links to combat these threats.
- social enterprise or a not-for-profit organisation – this is an umbrella term for a number of organisations such as community interest companies and some charitable organisations. The bottom line is that social enterprises make money from selling services (health services to commissioners), but instead of paying dividends to shareholders, reinvest the profits back into the business to improve services. If you are transferred to a social enterprise, it will be very important to make your case for continuing the specialist nurse service to ensure that it is not threatened: financial viability is vital. It may be worth following the downbanding links to create your case. It is vital that you align any objectives or outcomes set by the commissioners/CCGs of the specialist nursing service with those of the social enterprise.