What is TUPE?
TUPE is the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006. They are regulations that are designed to protect employees and workers when the business or organisation they work for is taken over by someone else. This could be because the business has been bought by another business, or it could be because the part of the business you work for is outsourced to a different organisation. Another scenario where TUPE often applies is if a different business wins the contract you are working on.
What happens if TUPE applies?
If TUPE applies to the business, or part of the business, where you work, you should automatically become an employee of the business or organisation that has taken over – with all your terms and conditions of employment protected. The transfer doesn’t break your ‘continuous service’ – so if you had worked for 3 years for the old employer, you are treated as having worked 3 years for the new employer. This is important for your employment rights that depend on length of service, including unfair dismissal and entitlement to a redundancy payment.
Before the transfer, your existing employer must pass over information about you to the new employer, at least 28 days before the transfer. You also need to be given certain information about the transfer to the new employer.
What if I am dismissed?
If you are dismissed because of the transfer (whether your old employer dismisses you before the transfer or your new employer does it afterwards), this will usually be found to be automatically unfair, unless your employer has particular business reasons (specified in the TUPE regulations) for the dismissal. There may be a redundancy situation following the transfer because the new employer ends up with too many people to provide the service. If there is a redundancy situation, your employer should consult with you.
Can my terms and conditions change?
Normally your terms and conditions of employment are protected indefinitely following the transfer against any change which is due to the fact of the transfer. Further on down the line, the new employer may have a different reason for seeking to change your terms and conditions – and of course may offer more favourable terms and conditions.
TUPE is one of the more complicated areas of employment law. If you are worried about a situation where your employment is transferring to another employer, you should seek legal advice.