According to employment laws in the UK, employers have a legal obligation to consult thoroughly regarding both restructuring and redundancy. This includes not only discussions on the necessity of reducing workforce roles or creating new ones to better align with the needs of the business but also the selection criteria, application of that criterion, and identifying alternative employment options.
Failure to properly follow these guidelines can result in not only legal repercussions for the organisation but also significant damage to its reputation. This article provides guidance and advice for employers navigating TUPE, restructuring, and redundancy processes.
What Do TUPE, Restructuring and Redundancy Mean?
TUPE stands for Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations. It is a law in the UK that provides protection for employees when a business or undertaking is transferred from one owner to another, such as in the case of a merger or acquisition. The law ensures that employees’ rights, such as their continuity of employment, are protected and transferred to the new employer.
Restructuring refers to the process of making changes to the organisation, such as to its structure, operations, or workforce, in order to improve its performance or adapt to changes in the market or environment. This can include things like consolidating departments, outsourcing work, or reducing the number of employees.
Redundancy refers to the situation where an employer no longer needs an employee’s role to be performed by anyone. It means the employer is going to end the employment of an employee due to the discontinuation of a particular role or the business closing down or relocating.
Redundancy Steps for UK Employers
The stages of redundancy in the UK are legally protected to ensure fairness and parity, and they generally include the following steps:
- Identification of roles for redundancy
- Consultation with employees
- Selection criteria
- Selecting employees for redundancy
- Offering alternative employment
- Notifying employees of redundancy
- Appeal process
What Rights Does an Employer Have with TUPE?
TUPE law provides both the transferor and the new employer with rights to ensure that everyone is treated fairly. Some of these rights include:
- The right to object to the transfer on certain grounds if it would put the business at a serious disadvantage.
- The right to take on the employees who are transferring to you on their existing terms and conditions of employment.
- The right to access relevant employee liability information and consult with employee representatives regarding the transfer.
- The right to be indemnified by the transferor against certain liabilities arising out of the employment of the transferring employees.
What Rights Does an Employee Have with TUPE?
A TUPE transfer gives employees a number of rights to help protect them. These rights include:
- Moving to a new employer under their current terms and conditions.
- Objecting to a transfer if it will substantially change their employment in any way.
- Access to alternative employment if they are made redundant.
- Legal redress if the transferor or new employer does not comply with the TUPE regulations.
Can Redundancy Terms Be Changed by the Employer?
Redundancy processes are governed by UK Law and cannot be withdrawn after the redundancy has been served. In cases where an employee refuses alternative employment that is suitable or refuses to return to their original job if it is re-offered using the same terms and conditions, they will lose access to statutory redundancy pay as they have acted unreasonably.
To make the redundancy process fair, UK Law sets out Statutory Redundancy payment terms that all employers must follow. However, this does not stop employers from offering more should they wish to.