Surprise threat by Labour to annul recent changes to TUPE
Published 7 March 2014
Last week an early day motion sponsored by Ed Miliband was tabled in Parliament, calling for the annulment of the Collective Redundancies and Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) (Amendment) Regulations 2014. The early day motion was tabled in Parliament the day before the Labour party's special conference to discuss its membership and its relationship with the unions.
The motion has been signed by 17 Members of Parliament. Very few early day motions are actually debated however - they tend to be a way of drawing attention to an event or cause. Additionally, since the Labour Party does not hold a majority in the House of Commons, the motion is unlikely to pass.
The new regulations came into force on 31 January 2014 and made several changes to TUPE. For an overview of these changes see our previous alert.
The early day motion is a surprising development as the TUPE amendment regulations have already been in force for over a month and there were no significant objections to them from Labour prior to their introduction. They were, however, opposed by some of the unions on the basis that they reduce employee protection.
What this means for employers
This development creates a bit of uncertainty for employers who have already started to act in reliance on the new law but now risk having the goalposts changed.
The amendment regulations made some common sense changes to the law on TUPE and were broadly welcomed.
We don’t think that there is a significant risk that the amending regulations will be annulled. However, if they are, it would be as if the changes in January were never made. As such, employers acting in reliance on the changes should take legal advice so that they can assess the risks. This may be, for example, where:
- There are likely to be relocation redundancies and changes in employees' terms and conditions because of relocation redundancies;
- Transferees wish to start collective redundancy consultation pre-transfer date; and
- Employers wish to argue that the changes to terms and conditions are connected to (rather than by reason of) the transfer.