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The Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006, known informally as TUPE, is the United Kingdom’s implementation of the European Union Business Transfers Directive. It is an important part of UK labour law, designed to protect employees whose business or work is being transferred to another business.
Historically, TUPE occurs when a business transaction takes place leading to the movement of work. In our industry TUPE tends to be at play whenever work is moved between a client and a supplier and vice versa , clearly TUPE becomes prevalent where we are acquiring other businesses as part of our M&A strategy. Overall TUPE is often at the heart of any growth initiatives the business is involved in, and is a regular occurrence in the outsourcing arena.
The fundamental concept of TUPE regulations is to protect employees as they transfer into or out of our business and one of the overarching principles is that the employee’s contractual terms are protected. Webhelp UK ensure that meticulous due diligence is conducted in the very early stages of any transaction allowing the scoping of the transfer and the identification of any measures we would anticipate having to make.
One of the key initial considerations will be to identify any individuals whose role is to be transferred under TUPE. There are rules that help define those individuals who are to be transferred as a result of the movement in work. Delivering clear, open and honest two way communications with staff throughout the consultation process and as early as possible is essential, with both the transferee and the transferor getting involved in that process wherever possible.
Often organisations concentrate understandably on the legal and technical issues at play in a TUPE transfer.
In our experience, whilst this is clearly very important, it’s equally critical that the organisation shares its company vision and values to give people a sense of belonging and direction – embedding our business culture as soon as possible. At the end of the day, this is about making people feel comfortable, giving them a sense of belonging and ensuring they feel welcomed into our business as quickly as possible.
Where we are moving business into Webhelp UK, we will typically engage with the existing employer throughout all stages of the process. We of course have the benefit of our standard methodologies which we have developed over the last decade which ensure legal, HR and Operational teams engage at all the right points in the process. Further details may be required to consider, for instance, home workers, whether they are legally defined as workers or employees, and the legal implications on TUPE.
In the early stages, an important feature of the initial consultation setup is the nomination of employee representatives who will play a crucial role in the process. In our experience, it’s important that the representatives fully understand the importance of the role they will play throughout the consultation process. Ultimately they are both the voice of the employees and the people responsible for delivering very important messages arising from the consultation process itself.
When we transfer people into our business, one of the important pre-transfer obligations is the timely delivery of a measures letter, clearly outlining any measures (amendments) we anticipate having to make as a consequence, for example, changes in the work content that the employees are expected to carry out.
Webhelp UK is particularly experienced in TUPE situations, not just in the technical challenges they can present but also the human element in a process like this. Within the UK there is much case law that suggests that TUPE regulations have been either not entirely understood or misinterpreted to some degree. I would strongly advise, as the law surrounding TUPE is so complex, that having access to seasoned experienced subject matter experts is a must.
Another piece of guidance is for organisations to always approach TUPE with confidence. There will always be complexities in TUPE as no two situations are the same, but a confident approach and a “can do “attitude when leading employees through an unsettling time will go a long way to ensure your people are happy and the process in itself is a success. As much as anything, it’s about ensuring that you do exactly what you said you were going to do.
Webhelp UK is people focused – the happiness and success of our people is reflected in our business – an investment in our people is an investment in our future.”
Harry Hogg – HR Director
This article has also been published in Contact Centre LIVE! on 15th March, 2013