Reform safeguards staff rights

The Government hopes proposals to give more protection to employees’ terms
and conditions when they are transferred between employers will help overcome
resistance to the involvement of the private sector in the delivery of public
services.

Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt told the TUC’s annual
conference last week that proposed changes to the Tupe regulations would help
reassure public sector employees that their working conditions will be
protected.

"Workers need reassurance that their rights will be safeguarded in the
vital process of public sector reform and in business restructuring in the
private sector. That is why I am announcing proposals for the reform of the
Tupe arrangements including looking at occupational pensions," she said.

Terry Gorman, former president of Socpo, gave the proposals a cautious
welcome.

He said, "Anything that helps protect the situation for staff while
businesses are forging links has to be welcomed."

Gorman is concerned that companies that take over local government services
could be tempted to shed staff to make cost savings if they cannot do it
through terms and conditions.

Yvonne Bennion, policy specialist at the Industrial Society, thinks the
suggestion in the Tupe consultation document that there could be a different
interpretation for private- and public-sector staff is a recipe for confusion.

Patricia Hewitt’s proposals for Tupe

– Measures to better protect occupational pension rights

– Greater flexibility when applying Tupe to transfers of insolvent
businesses

– Better guidance on the extent of protection against transfer related
dismissals

– A legal requirement for the old employer to give the new employer details
of terms being transferred

– More flexibility for employers to change terms and conditions after a
transfer if there is a sound economic, technical or organisational reason for
this

www.dti.gov.uk

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