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29.09.2021

What is TUPE?

By Paul O’Connor

Last updated: September 29th, 2021

TUPE. What is it and what are the TUPE regulations in Ireland? Is it a straightforward process and why should you be aware of it?

For answers to these important questions and a deeper dive into all things TUPE, read on…

What is TUPE?

TUPE is an acronym for The Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations. TUPE came into effect to safeguard employees’ jobs should a business or contract be transferred from one supplier to another.

For TUPE to take place:

  • There must be a change in the person (either an individual or a company) responsible for running the business.
  • The new employer must carry out the previous economic activity of the business employer.
  • The business must be transferred as a “going concern”.

The compulsory liquidation of the business, or the changeover of contractors, are not deemed a transfer of undertakings under the Regulations.

Who does TUPE cover?

TUPE applies if you are:

  • An employee
  • An apprentice
  • An agency worker
  • A civil servant or state employee

TUPE consultation

TUPE legislation requires you to consult employees on any decisions likely to lead to substantial organisational or contractual changes. Mergers, acquisitions, and collective redundancies are covered here.

You must comply with the following notice requirements in advance of a relevant transfer:

  • If the employees are members of a union, the union must be notified no later than 30 days before the transfer. You must provide the union with details of the reasons for the transfer, the date or expected date of the transfer, and the legal, economic, and social implications for the employees.
  • For non-union employees, you must give the details mentioned above in writing to each employee no later than 30 days before the transfer.

Article: Notice periods in employment

Can a new owner restructure the business?

TUPE rules do not prohibit a new owner from restructuring the business after buying it. The new owner must adhere to fair procedures and respect any accrued employment law rights that employees have.

Are there specific TUPE redundancy rules?

A new owner is vulnerable to claims from employees if they make redundancies that weren’t in agreement with the way the business ran before acquisition.

These dismissed employees may have accrued substantial periods of service. This would entitle them to various employment law protections under unfair dismissals, employment equality, and redundancy legislation.

Article: FACTSHEET: Collective redundancy explained

Employee rights and protection

With regard to TUPE, employees enjoy the right to bring the following entitlements with them:

  • Prior length of service
  • Contractual rights and entitlements, including implied terms
  • Maintaining their share-schemes or profit-sharing scheme
  • The terms of any collective bargaining agreements
  • Golden parachute clauses
  • Any ex-gratia redundancy terms
  • All statutory employment rights and existing claims
  • PIAB liability
  • Disciplinary, grievance, and other internal procedures
  • Restrictive covenants

TUPE also sets out strong protections for employees. For instance, a new owner of a business doesn’t have free rein to downgrade the terms and conditions of employment of the employees they acquire as part of a transfer of a business.

Furthermore, they cannot reduce employee salaries, force them to enter new contracts of employment, or change their terms and conditions if those changes are less favourable than their current ones.

Need further advice on TUPE?

For further advice on TUPE, speak to an expert on 01 886 0350 or request a callback here.

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