There are a number of situations where as an employee you can suddenly find that the identity of your employer has changed. This can happen, for example, when your original employer sells their business or part of their business, or it can sometimes happen where a major contract is transferred. In this unsettling situation many of your basic terms and conditions of employment may still be protected by The Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (“TUPE”) when your employment is transferred.
Before any transfer of employment takes place – which should only occur following a proper consultation – employees have the right to be given information through their representatives about the transfer, including when it is likely to happen, the reason for it, any legal, economic or social implications, and whether any new measures are currently envisaged by the new employer in relation to their employees. Where there are such measures proposed the incoming employer will be obliged to consult with the employee representatives.
Any major changes to fundamental terms of employment, such as pay, hours of work etc by a new employer may constitute a breach of contract and mean that transferred employees could claim constructive unfair dismissal. Also any dismissals which take place either before or after the transfer may be automatically unfair unless correct procedures have been followed. Sometimes employers will be able to justify a dismissal or a contract change – for example if there is an economic, technical or organisational reason – but they will still need to follow a strict process for introducing any changes.