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Acas launches new TUPE guidance to help employers handle business transfers

Tuesday 03 June 2014

Workplace expert, Acas, has launched new guidance today to help the thousands of employers each year that deal with TUPE law when their businesses change hands to a new owner.

The Transfer of Undertakings Regulations, or TUPE as they are commonly known, protect employees' rights when the business or undertaking for which they work transfers to a new employer.

A study showed that one in eight workplaces in Britain had gone through some kind of business transfer, with transfers affecting up to two million employees each year. In 2013, the Acas helpline dealt with around 28,000 calls relating to TUPE.

Anne Sharp, Acas Chief Executive, said:

"TUPE is often seen as complicated but employers need to get to grips with the detail if they decide to buy a business or take on work being carried out by others.

"If things go wrong the fall out can damage individuals and organisations. Our new guidance provides a clear overview of the requirements and helps people understand in straightforward and practical terms what they need to do.

"TUPE can affect all businesses and organisations, whatever their size or sector. One of our key messages is that you should involve employees early to minimise concerns and potential problems further down the track."

Acas' new guidance, Handling TUPE Transfers, includes advice on when TUPE applies, getting the process right, and information and consultation requirements.

Acas' top tips for managing business transfers include:

  • Consult as extensively as possible;
  • Engage with trade unions - they can make all the difference in how smoothly a transfer happens;
  • Make sure contract information is up to date and reflects reality;
  • Set up a employee forum and dedicate a management team to running the transfer and;
  • Seek advice from Acas and your legal advisers if you are unsure about the TUPE process or have further questions.

A good example of a successful smooth transition under TUPE is how Capgemini UK engages with their staff and trade unions to make outsourcing or business transfers work for both their employers and their employees.

Mick Dillon, Capgemini TUPE Manager said:

"Capgemini UK has over 30 years experience of transferring more than 10,000 employees under TUPE. In that time we have built up a tried and trusted process, based on good practice. This has been refined over many transfers and is aimed at early dialogue with employees to provide reassurance, and deal with their understandable concerns.

"We have found that adhering to the principles of honesty and open communication with employees has resulted in successful transfers and engaged employees who have gone on to have successful careers with us and help us to grow our business."

Chris Morrison, PCS Commercial Sector President said:

"It should never be underestimated how stressful an enforced TUPE transfer is for employees. It's really important that both incoming and exiting employers understand the need to talk to staff representatives as early as possible, as often as possible and as openly as possible. The dialogue goes a long way to calming nerves on the shop-floor and can often identify easy fixes and potential problems for incoming employers."

Acas' new guide, Handling Tupe Transfers, is available from our Transfer of undertakings (TUPE) page.


Notes to editors

  1. The new Acas guide Handling Tupe Transfers was developed with assistance from Dr John McMullen, Partner, Wrigleys Solicitors LLP
  2. Business transfers statistic is from the Workplace Employment Relations Survey 2011 (WERs)
  3. Acas stands for Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service. We aim to improve organisations and working life through better employment relations. We help with employment relations by supplying up-to-date information, independent advice and high quality training, and working with employers and employees to solve problems and improve performance. Acas is an independent and impartial statutory body governed by a Council made up of members from business, trade unions, academia and the law. For more information, read About us.
  4. The Acas helpline - 0300 123 1100 - is available from 8am to 8pm, Monday to Friday and from 9am to 1pm on Saturdays. Advice is free and confidential so callers do not have to give their names. Research commissioned by Acas and available at Acas Helpline, found over nine out of ten employers (96 per cent) who call the Acas helpline would recommend it to a colleague.
  5. For media enquiries please contact Lou Owen on 020 7210 3920 or lowen@acas.org.uk. If you would like to arrange an interview with an Acas spokesperson or our Capgemini case study, please get in touch. For out of hours media enquiries please call the out of hours duty press officer on 020 7210 3600.