Coming soon…new rules on TUPE and flexible working

New regulations with implications for employers come into force in just a few days.

Simplified Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) (TUPE) Regulations 2013 take effect from 31 January, which the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) says are designed to make “business transfers…easier for those concerned.”

The various protections offered by TUPE are designed to make sure that employees do not unfairly lose out when a business transfer takes place and set out rules that the old and new businesses have to follow. Changes included in the new regulations include:

  • allowing renegotiation of terms agreed in a collective agreement (e.g. with trade unions)  more than one year after transfer, provided that overall the change is no less favourable to the employee
  • allowing micro businesses – those with less than ten employees – to inform and consult directly with employees when there are existing appropriate representatives
  • clarification that for TUPE to apply, the activities carried on after a change in service provider must be fundamentally the same as those carried out before the change.

Meanwhile, the right to request flexible working will be extended to all employees with 26 weeks’ service. This will come into force on 6 April 2014.

At present, employers are legally required to “consider seriously” requests to work flexibly only from employees with a child aged 16 or under, a child with disabilities aged under 18 and employees looking after an adult dependant, such as an elderly parent.

BIS says that while it recognises the measure has cost implications for businesses, “the government has consulted extensively with business to minimise the administration around considering requests, and there will be wider benefits to businesses, not least from a more engaged and motivated workforce.”

The Palmers employment law team can provide expert guidance on how the changes to TUPE regulations and the right to request flexible working could affect your business. Our HR package also offers regularly updated sample policies for matters such as flexible working. For more information about our employment law services or our HR package, please visit our website or contact Lara Murray.