Transfer of Undertakings Regulations 1981

Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981 (TUPE)

a set of UK regulations which stipulate employee rights when the ownership of a business changes. Derived from the European Union's Acquired Rights Directive of 1977, the Regulations stipulate that an employee's CONTRACT OF EMPLOYMENT is automatically transferred to the new employer when a business changes hands, with the result that the employee's rights and duties are unchanged. These Regulations only applied to commercial ventures and hence it was supposed that large parts of the public services were not covered by them. However, a succession of recent judgements by the European Court of Justice has implied that this interpretation, upon which the government's COMPETITIVE TENDERING programme was based, infringed European law. The Regulations were therefore amended to include public service activities.

TUPE has been widely considered in relation to the CONTRACTING-OUT of public services as well as competitive tendering. Whilst TUPE provides protection for employees at the point of transfer there is some debate as to the duration of the protection against changes to employment conditions and wages.

Employers are obliged by law to consult with employee representatives over transfers of undertakings, in the same manner as is required with REDUNDANCY.

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