Employee rights during a TUPE transfer

When TUPE regulations apply

Your rights are protected under TUPE if both of these things apply:

  • you’re legally classed as an employee 
  • the part of the organisation that’s transferring is in the UK

However, TUPE regulations might also protect workers. You should get legal advice as this is a developing area.

TUPE regulations can apply to both the public and private sectors.

Public sector transfers

TUPE applies to public sector transfers if the transfer is from the public sector into the private sector or from one public authority to another. For example, from the NHS to a local authority.

TUPE does not apply to transfers within the public sector where the employer does not change. For example, transfers within the Civil Service. But you will still get similar protections. 

Find out more about transfers within the public sector on GOV.UK.

Types of transfer TUPE applies to

The 2 types of transfer where TUPE applies are:

  • business transfers
  • service provision changes

Business transfers

This is where a business or part of a business moves from one employer to another. This can include mergers where 2 businesses come together to form a new one. It’s possible for the business, or part of it, to have just one employee.

Your employer must change for TUPE to apply.

You will automatically transfer to your new employer when the transfer happens.

Service provision changes

This is where contracts are taken over. This can be because:

  • a service provided in-house is taken over by a contractor (known as ‘outsourcing’)
  • a contract ends and the work is transferred in-house (known as ‘insourcing’)
  • a contract ends and is taken over by a new contractor (known as ‘retendering’)

Service provision changes often include contracts to provide labour-intensive services such as:

  • catering
  • security
  • office cleaning
  • rubbish collection
  • machinery maintenance

TUPE does not apply if the contract is for:

  • the supply of goods only, for example a car manufacturer getting their brake pads from a different supplier
  • a single event or short-term task, for example a conference or an exhibition

What an ‘organised grouping of employees’ is 

To transfer under TUPE, you must be part of an 'organised grouping of employees'. This is the group of employees carrying out work for the 'client' (the organisation receiving the services). 

A group may only have 1 employee.

If only part of your job is being transferred, whether TUPE applies will depend on whether you’re part of an organised grouping of employees that meets the client’s needs. 

The client must remain the same for TUPE to apply. For example, if the work you do has been outsourced to a contractor but you still provide the service for the same client.

You should talk with your employer to find out if you’re transferring under TUPE. If you and your employer do not agree whether you are in the organised grouping, you might want to get legal advice.

Example of a service provision change 

An organisation called DeskCo has contracted out the reception and security of their office to SecureLimited. When the contract ends, they retender the contract to Safeunit. DeskCo is the client as they are receiving the services. The reception and security staff are part of an organised grouping of employees as they provide services to meet DeskCo’s needs. They’ll transfer to Safeunit under TUPE. TUPE applies because the client DeskCo remains the same.

Working abroad

TUPE could still apply if:

  • you work abroad but your employer is based in the UK
  • the purpose of the transfer is to move your organisation, or part of it, abroad – however this could also be a redundancy situation

This can be a complex area. To check how TUPE applies to your situation, you might want to get legal advice

Getting help and advice

You should talk to your employer or trade union representative if you’re not sure whether you’re transferring.

To talk through your situation, you can call the Acas helpline

If you’re still not sure if TUPE applies, you might want to get legal advice

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