Zeba Sayed Editor's message: TUPE protects employees when the organisation where they are employed changes hands - and is a notoriously complex area of employment law.

At the heart of the legislation is the concept that the entire employment contract, and the rights and obligations under it, transfer from the old employer (the transferor) to the new employer (the transferee). This applies both when all or part of a business or undertaking is transferred as a going concern to another employer, and where a service such as IT support, cleaning or catering is outsourced, brought back in-house or transferred to a new contractor. In effect, it means that the employee's contract of employment is treated as if it was always made with the new employer.

Under the TUPE legislation, both the transferor and the transferee are required to follow defined procedures during the transfer, including informing and, where appropriate, consulting with affected employees about the transfer. The legislation also provides protection from dismissal, as well as making purported contract variations void (unless specific conditions are met) - which impacts on transferees' ability to harmonise the terms and conditions of incoming staff in line with those of existing employees.

Zeba Sayed, employment law editor

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