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Collective agreements and the TUPE reforms

The recent TUPE reforms include some new measures on how changes can be made to collective agreements.

Collective agreements

Collective agreements are usually negotiated between an employer and a trade union over matters such as pay, hours and terms.

In a transfer, these agreements are transferred to the incoming employer.

It's important for employers to handle the transfer of collective agreements sensitively. They not only have to deal with the legal implications of rule changes, but also any industrial relations considerations.

Timing of renegotiation

Two amendments to TUPE regulations specify when terms outlined in collective agreements can be changed in a transfer situation.

Incoming employers are now able to renegotiate terms and conditions of a collective agreement one year after the transfer - as long as the overall change is no less favourable to the employees concerned.

Terms and conditions not covered by a collective agreement are subject to standard TUPE provisions.

Treatment of new collective agreements

The new regulations now incorporate recent case law concerning how certain collective agreements are passed on to an incoming employer.

The incoming employer is still bound by the collective agreement in force at the time of the transfer - but not by changes negotiated and agreed by the outgoing employer after the date of transfer where the incoming employer is not party to the process.

Previously, an incoming employer may have been obliged to honour terms agreed by the outgoing employer and, say, a trade union, after the transfer.

Acas publications and services

Detailed information on all of the recent TUPE reforms, including those dealing with collective agreements, is available in the pdf icon TUPE changes 2014 [165kb] changes to TUPE.

In the coming weeks, Acas will be following this up with a full guide on TUPE and how to manage the process effectively.

Dedicated Acas training is also available on TUPE, including the impact of the reforms, Redundancy and how to understand your options and obligations, and Contracts and terms and conditions.

Visit the Acas Training Courses, Workshops and Projects area for more information.

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