Problem: “I have just taken over a brewery leased pub from a previous owner. Five staff stayed on, with three of them living in the accommodation upstairs with their friends and partners. I am not happy with this as I feel that the security of the stock and money is compromised. Their contract with the previous owner has finished, and so far we have not issued another. What rights do they or I have over that accommodation? Can I just ask them to leave?” - Lou Ramsay
Solution: The law says that when a business is sold, all contracts of employment transfer to the new owner; they are not terminated.
So you need to establish what terms and conditions the staff are on. The terms and conditions would have automatically transferred over to you under TUPE if they are employees, and the old terms and conditions still apply.
If they are entitled to accommodation under their terms and conditions, then you cannot renege on that and ask the staff to move out for so long as they remain in your employment. If you did, you would be breaching their terms of employment and you could face various claims.
However, if the “staff” are no longer employees, then you need to find out whether there is any formal basis for their occupation, such as an assured shorthold tenancy. They may have statutory or common law rights to remain in occupation.
If the staff are employees who are entitled to occupy as a benefit of employment, that benefit does not extend to friends and partners. You need to see what their contracts say. If the contract does not specify that staff are entitled to have others living in the accommodation, or if there is no written contract, then you are entitled to insist that no visitors are allowed.
If you wanted to change any terms and conditions, you should seek further legal advice.
Do you have a problem you'd like solving? Need advice on a particular area of your business? Our panel of industry experts are on hand to give you the help you need. Email your problem to email@example.com with Ask the Experts in the subject line and we'll endeavour to get it answered.