6 September 2013

Earlier this year, the Government launched a consultation on how it should reform the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (TUPE) which implement, in the UK, the EU Acquired Rights Directive.

This exercise was part of the Government’s Employment Law Review which aims to reform legislation so that it supports the flexibility and effectiveness of the UK labour market.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has now published the Government's response to the 178 replies it received to the consultation.

The consultation was launched in the context of the Government's wish to remove any UK regulations that go above and beyond what is required by the European directives they implement, unless there is a clear economic rationale for maintaining the extra provisions.

At a date yet to be confirmed (possibly January 2014), a number of changes will be introduced to the TUPE regulations, including allowing renegotiation of terms derived from collective agreements one year after the transfer, even though the reason for seeking to change them is the transfer, provided that, overall, the change is no less favourable to the employee.

The Government will also make provisions so that changes in the location of the workforce following a transfer can be within the scope of economic, technical or organisational reasons entailing changes in the workforce, thereby preventing genuine place of work redundancies from being automatically unfair.

The regulations will be amended so that, for there to be a TUPE service provision change, the activities carried on after the change in service provision must be “fundamentally or essentially the same” as those carried on before it.

The rules about employee liability information will be retained and the time before the transfer, when it must be given to the transferee, extended to 28 days.

The Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 will also be amended to make it clear in statute that consultation which begins pre-transfer can count for the purposes of complying with the collective redundancy rules, provided that the transferor and transferee can agree, and where the transferee has carried out meaningful consultation.

Finally, micro-businesses will be allowed to inform and consult directly with employees when there is no recognised independent union, nor any existing appropriate representatives.

From Paul Clarke, business writer for Croner