31 January 2014

Changes to the rules affecting Transfer of Undertakings and Protection of Employment (TUPE) that came into force on 31 January have been subjected to strong opposition by the TUC.

General Secretary, Frances O’Grady said that they would drive down pay and conditions for hundreds of thousands of workers and make privatisation cheaper and quicker.

Derived from the EU's Acquired Rights Directive, TUPE law protects employees’ pay and conditions of work when a business is transferred from one owner to another.

Staff automatically become employees of the new employer on the same terms as they were on before. Their continuity of service is also protected. The Government estimates that there are between 26,500 and 48,000 TUPE transfers around the UK each year.

However, the TUC argues, the latest changes will substantially weaken these protections and reduce job security. “This will make it far easier for unscrupulous employers to drive down conditions in workplaces and lay off staff,” Ms O’Grady said.

The TUC fears that the changes will have a big impact on low-paid staff in commonly contracted-out services such as cleaning, catering and social care, where the workforce is predominantly made up of women and black and Asian workers.

It is also concerned that all employers will now be able to re-negotiate changes to collective agreements one year after taking over a business.

“Weakening guarantees on pay and conditions will encourage unscrupulous companies to compete for contracts based solely on low costs and not on the quality of service,” Ms O'Grady said.

From Paul Clarke, business writer for Croner.