What Does TUPE Stand For?
11 July 2019
The acronym TUPE stands for Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment). This is a set of Regulations that apply when all or part of a business with employees is transferred to a new owner, or when the responsibility for providing a service transfers from one business to another. Under the TUPE Regulations, most of an employee's existing terms and conditions of employment are protected.
What is TUPE?
TUPE is a set of Regulations that apply in England and Wales to protect the rights of employees who are transferred from one employer to another. The full title of the Regulations is the "Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006." These regulations were amended in 2014, by the "Collective Redundancies and Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) (Amendment) Regulations 2014."
Who Is Covered under TUPE?
The Regulations apply to any employee who is transferred to another employer because the business (or part of the business) that they work for is transferred to a new owner, or because the activity they undertake within the business is taken on by another business.
So, for example, if a business is sold in its entirety to a new owner, then its employees will be transferred to the company and their terms and conditions will be protected under TUPE. If a business outsources a certain activity to a contractor, such as IT support, then the employees who carry out that work are likely to be transferred to the contractor and their terms and conditions will also be protected under TUPE.
Another situation in which TUPE applies is when work that has previously been carried out by a contractor is taken over by the business instead. This is called 'contracting in' or 'insourcing' (as opposed to contracting out or outsourcing).
All organisations with employees must adhere to these regulations, regardless of their size.
What Happens under TUPE?
Any employee who is covered by the TUPE Regulations will automatically transfer and become an employee of the new business, and the terms and conditions of their employment will be protected. Their continuous service will also transfer across to the new business.
The current employer (the transferor) has certain obligations during the TUPE process that they must adhere to. This includes informing employees of the upcoming transfer and carrying out consultations with them. As a minimum, employers should inform employees when and why the transfer is happening as well as any potential implications on the employee's job roles.
If the employee does not want to work for the new employer, then they are entitled to refuse the transfer. This would mean that the employee is effectively resigning from their job and their employment would terminate on the date of the transfer.
If an employee is dismissed as a direct result of the transfer, then this may be an unfair dismissal.
TUPE Advice from an Employment Solicitor
If your employer has informed you of a potential transfer and you are unsure of your rights under TUPE, you can seek advice from an Employment Solicitor. Our Solicitors can provide you with comprehensive advice and guidance on your employer's obligations under TUPE and we can advise you on what steps to take if these obligations are not met.