If part or all of the organisation you work for has been purchased through merger or acquisition, then TUPE – the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 – could apply to you.
TUPE helps to protect employees by imposing certain obligations on both the seller of the organisation and its purchaser. The key provisions are as follows:
• You must be informed and consulted
The seller must inform and consult with either yourself or an appropriate representative at the earliest possible opportunity to seek agreement about how the transfer will proceed. Bear in mind that agreement isn’t always possible, and isn’t necessary for the transfer to move ahead. However, if you feel your employer didn’t provide enough time or attention to the consultation process, then talk to a solicitor as you could be eligible for up to 13 weeks’ pay as compensation if the case is won at tribunal.
• Your employment transfers automatically
As long as you are officially employed immediately before the sale, your employment transfers to the new business automatically. If you are dismissed by the seller or purchaser for a reason relating to the sale, you can claim unfair dismissal as long as you have worked for the company for more than two years. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that dismissal for reasons unrelated to the transfer are valid if economic, technical or organisational grounds can be justified.
• You have the same employment terms and conditions
Your new employer is obliged to give you the same employment contract with the same terms and conditions relating to aspects such as salary, holiday pay and contractual benefits. For example, if the purchaser’s own employees are on less favourable terms, and your contract is immediately amended to be equally unfavourable, then this could be a breach of TUPE unless economic, technical or organisational grounds can be justified.
• You can object to the transfer
You have the right to object to joining the new organisation, but this means your employment will be terminated. Be aware that no compensation can be claimed in this scenario.
This information is provided as general guidance, so talk to a solicitor if you have a question about your own situation, particularly if you feel either the seller or purchaser is acting unfairly.