Union slams public sector pensions transfer u-turn

Local government HR chiefs have attacked ministers for a U-turn on promises
to include pensions in new regulations on staff transfers.

HR body Socpo has criticised trade secretary Patricia Hewitt for breaking a
promise to strengthen pension rights of public sector staff moving to
commercial organisations.

Hewitt told last September’s TUC conference that pensions would be
protected. But last week a leaked Whitehall policy document revealed that
planned changes to the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment)
regulations, which protect staff terms and conditions during transfer between
employers, will not include pensions.

Keith Handley, president of Socpo, is unhappy that the Gover ment seems to
have changed its mind. He said: "Socpo is totally against any concept of a
Tupe pensions U-turn. I can’t believe the Government is backtracking on this
fundamental issue.

"I would have thought, given all the adverse publicity that the
Government seems to be collecting these days on pension issues, the last thing
it would want to do would be to backtrack on the issue of Tupe and

John McMullen, head of employment law for law firm Pinsent Curtis Biddle,
said the Government has no obligation to include pensions, under the revised
acquired rights European Union directive that governs Tupe.

"I think the Government has had a long hard think about the issue. It
is running out of time to get the regulations to comply with the European
directive on this.

"It should have implemented the directive last summer. It may think
that the directive does not oblige us [the UK] to include pension rights, and
other countries in Europe have not done it."

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