In 1996 Connex South East took over a certain Mr Taylor's employment from what was then British Rail. In 1998, he was sacked for holding out against a new contract of employment that almost all his colleagues had signed. Last autumn he took his case to an employment appeal tribunal and won, on the grounds of unfair dismissal.
This case demonstrates that harmonising the employment contracts of two workforces is not easy - you may fall foul of the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981 - known as TUPE - which protect employees' rights when the business they work in is transferred to a new employer.
Under TUPE, the staff of the acquired business keep their existing terms and the employer can't change them. Even if they want to, the staff can't agree to the new terms - unless you give employees the best of the old terms and the best of the new.
Michael Burd and James Davies, Lewis Silkin solicitors, e-mail: email@example.com.