UK Agencies, Advertisers Mull New Employment Law

01 November 2006

LONDON: UK advertisers and agencies have thrashed out a 'Voluntary Protocol' to help manage employment legislation that, in extremis, could require an agency winning a new account to hire staffers who worked primarily on the business at the agency that lost it.

The laws, introduced in April this year and known as Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations (TUPE), raised widespread concern over the effects on client/agency relationships.

Comments Debbie Morrison from Incorporated Society of British Advertisers: "When advertisers seek to re-pitch their business it is almost invariably to seek fresh thinking and fresh people who will take a fresh approach."

She adds: "A requirement for a new agency to take on staff from the previous agency would be completely inappropriate in this context."

Now, an agreement has been drawn up by members of ISBA and the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising in an effort to mitigate the effects of the regulations.

The protocol would require the incumbent agency to tell other shops bidding for the account of possible liabilities, including how many people work on the business and their job titles.

When an agency wins a new account, the incumbent agency will give it the names of all staff working on the account, together with details of their salaries.

The protocol, which was discussed at a major industry meeting earlier this week, will be further fine tuned as case law and practice develops.

Comments Marina Palumbo, head of legal affairs at the IPA: "The position is a complex one and this protocol is not the perfect answer but the IPA believes it will go some way to reversing the unfortunate impact on our industry of the TUPE legislation."

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff