Facing TUPE and where to turn to as an employee

If you are facing TUPE at work, it can be an incredibly stressful period to go through. Many of us don’t have a clear understanding of what it is, what it involves and just how protected our contracts are. Often, we don’t think of looking into TUPE until we are faced with it and this can leave us feeling more confused and worried about the future of our careers.

This month, Herries-Smith look at TUPE and what this means so you can have a thorough understanding of what you need to know as an employee. Herries-Smith is an expert in employment law and helps many employees who are facing similar circumstances. If you need support with understanding your TUPE or think that your TUPE has been handled incorrectly, give us a call today.

An introduction to TUPE and what it means

When a business changes ownership, its employees could be protected under TUPE – transfer of undertakings (protection of employment). This applies to employees in businesses based in the UK. This means that the new employer will take over all employee contractors including previous terms and conditions of the employment to support continuity and consistency for the employee during the changeover. The size of the business doesn’t matter – your rights still apply whether you work for a large organisation or a small shop. There is no definite end period of TUPE protection and it can still protect an employee even years after a transfer.

During a transfer, a number of steps will have been identified. Every transfer is different but usual processes are still involved including:

  • Identifying employees who are affected by the transfer
  • Informing and consulting with employees who are affected by the transfer
  • Provide information to the new employer about the current employees who are transferring

There are a number of rights and responsibilities both the employer and employee must follow once a TUPE transfer has taken place.

Rights and responsibilities under TUPE


Employers are not able to make changes to the terms and conditions of the employee if this change is a direct result of the transfer, however after TUPE changes came into place in 2014, changes can be made to the terms and conditions if the employer and employee agree to the change.


  • Inform any employee who will be affected by the transfer
  • Consult with all affected employees regarding the transfer and any proposed measures.
  • Inform the affected employees of any changes or proposed changes following the transfer


Employees are able to refuse to work for the new employer and this process is the same as resigning however notice is not required. When the transition takes over, the employment will end at the same time.


  • Check all transfer paperwork to confirm you are comfortable with the transfer
  • Be aware of how long your protection covers you as an employee
  • Speak to a solicitor as soon as possible if you feel the TUPE has not been handled correctly

Handling TUPE incorrectly and the consequences

Failure to handle TUPE incorrectly could lead to complaints being made to the employment tribunal. If the employee is successful, they could be awarded up to 13 weeks wages. If the incorrect handling of a TUPE affects more than one employee, this could soon amount to a costly payout if all employees decide to take their complaint to an employment tribunal. This is one of the reasons why it is so important to handle TUPE correctly and consult solicitors for advice throughout the process.

One element of this difficult transfer is that some worried employees may be dismissed once TUPE has taken effect. It is important to know that dismissals that are the sole or principal reason for the transfer are automatically unfair. This means that if you are faced with a dismissal that has happened primarily because of the TUPE, you could have an unfair dismissal on your hands. Those dismissals that are for an economic, technical or organisational reason requiring a change in the workforce may not be considered to be unfair however it is worth checking with an employment law solicitor as it can be difficult to find the main reasons for dismissal.

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Herries-Smith can support you with your questions and concerns

As your local employment law expert, Herries-Smith has worked with many clients who need support with various aspects of their contracts, rights and responsibilities as employees. TUPE can be a very complex piece of law to try and understand and for many, they feel much more confident knowing that they have a solicitor working with them who has their best interests at heart.

If you are struggling to understand your TUPE or you feel as though it has been handled incorrectly, please get in contact today and Herries-Smith will work with you to understand your case in more detail before advising about employment tribunals.