Employers warned over law changes

Businesses are being warned over major changes to the rules which protect staff when a business is bought out or a service provision change takes place.

The Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006, known as TUPE, were changed recently with the introduction of new regulations.

TUPE is a key piece of employment legislation in the UK. It ensures that employees cannot be dismissed if the business they work for is sold unless there is a genuine economic, technical or organisational reason. It also makes sure that their contracts are not adversely affected by the sale and that they are properly consulted.

The new regulations introduce several changes. Kimberley Barrett-St. Vall, solicitor in the employment team at Napthens solicitors, has highlighted three of the most important for employers to be aware of.

She explained: “The regulations will make it easier for a business to dismiss staff when a change in location is involved, something which was not previously protected under the TUPE regulations unless there was a simultaneous reduction in staff numbers.

“They will also mean that any collective redundancy consultation will be able to begin prior to the transfer date. This will benefit the transferee, the incoming employer, who will be able to ‘kick start’ the redundancy process much sooner.

“Finally, those businesses which employ ten staff or less, will be able to consult with affected employees directly rather than through a union or appropriate representative. This removes a large burden for small businesses which would otherwise have to potentially go through a balloting process with staff. “TUPE is a major part of the employment law landscape and it is vitally important that businesses are aware of any changes to the legislation so they understand their role and responsibilities properly.”