Nicky Valmas is Head of Organisational Change and HR Services at Connor

TUPE – Is it really that hard to understand and comply with the regulations if you are a small business? Preparation and understanding of obligation is the key.

What is the real fear?

When considering a merger or a service outsourcing opportunity, many small businesses have the fear of managing a process such as TUPE (The Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment) because they believe it to be complex, laced with legal risk and put simply, a mechanism that they just don’t understand. In truth, it can be a headache for business owners, M&A specialists, HR Professionals and the legal team because every scenario is different. However, understanding the key principles of the process and accessing the right support at the right time makes it more manageable to navigate.

Looking after your employees during the process of a workforce transfer is essential, whether it’s a few individuals or a whole team. One of the biggest mistakes is looking at regulation compliance without considering the people challenges connected with the commercial opportunity. Small businesses particularly recognise that the success of the business transfer will be supported and measured by the resulting engagement, happiness and motivation of the team - so engaging those impacted at every stage is a must.

Leading a business during a TUPE process isn’t easy and setting the scene for communication, engagement and transition to a new organisation, rules and structure shouldn’t be underestimated. Being guided step by step by a TUPE Consultant will help avoid the common mistakes.

What does it really mean?

There are two types of employee transfer protected under the TUPE regulation.

  1. Business transfers - where a business or part of a business moves from an employer to a new owner or there is a merger. This can include mergers where 2 companies close and combine to form a new company. The identity of the employer must change for the employees to be protected under TUPE in this scenario.
  2. Service provision change (SPC) - when a service provided in-house (such as a call centre, payroll or office cleaning) is outsourced to a contractor, or where the contract is awarded to a new contractor, or where the service is brought in-house. The activities carried out before the service change must be fundamentally/essentially the same as the activities carried out after the service change and only the employees who are clearly identified as providing the service are protected.

So, once it has been established that TUPE does apply, understanding the responsibilities of both parties in the transaction is crucial. HR support for small businesses at this stage is often helpful and essential, as spelling out the consequences is paramount. For instance, business owners should understand that their original employees (and their employee contracts) automatically become employees of the new employer. Continuous service is therefore maintained for the transferring workforce alongside the existing terms and conditions, which ultimately means that the new employer is responsible for any failure of the old employer to observe the employees’ legal rights. Getting your ‘house in order’ ahead of this process can make conversations about unusual or difficult employee circumstances easier to manage and categorise. 

How to prepare for the process

Whether you are the outgoing employer (the “transferor”) or the incoming employer (the “transferee”), there are several crucial steps you need to follow to make sure you get through the process compliantly and avoid any employment tribunal claims, as an employee in the TUPE pool could bring a discrimination claim against the new employer even if the discrimination occurred prior to the transfer.

The Outgoing employer - or Transferor employer - should follow steps to promptly identify the pool of employees impacted based on the whole or partial sale of the business, requesting information from the new incoming employer about any ‘Measures’ the incoming employer intends to take after the transfer so that you can consult on the proposed measures with your affected employees (or their representative) before the transfer takes place.

The Outgoing employer will need to communicate the fact that the transfer is taking place, detailing the timings and reasons in conjunction with providing ‘employee liability information’ to the incoming employer a minimum of 28 days before the transfer. The outgoing employer also has the obligation to inform the impacted employees, noting that if more than 10 employees are affected then representatives will require electing to manage the transfer information and proposed incoming employer measures. This part of the process should not be rushed or overlooked - managed carefully and sensitively, it will underpin the chances of a successful TUPE transfer.

The New/Incoming - or Transferee Employer - inherits all the rights, responsibilities, and liabilities that the outgoing employer held towards their employees to ensure the employees aren’t disadvantaged by the transfer. To be prepared for what this entails, your TUPE Consultant will recommend ascertaining employee liability information (minimum of 28 days before the transfer) such as:

  •   How many transferring employees?
  •   Whether any of your current employees might be affected by the transfer.
  •   The identity (usually the name) and age of the employees who will transfer.
  •   Information about any relevant collective agreements.
  •   Details of any disciplinary action against an employee in the last two years.
  •   Details of any employee grievances raised in the last two years.
  •   Details of any legal action (before the court or employment tribunal) brought against the employer by an employee in the last two years and information about any potential legal action.
  •   Information contained in their employment contracts
  •   terms and conditions
  •   statement of pay
  •   hours of work
  •   holidays
  •   length of service

Aside from damaging employee relations, failing to inform and consult with employees during the TUPE process can have legal consequences. Each employee who is not informed and/or consulted about the transfer could claim up to 13 weeks of uncapped pay, so the cost of getting it wrong could be significant, both to the incoming and outgoing employer.

For both the incoming and outgoing employer, it is essential to make sure that all affected employees are adequately informed and/or consulted with. This includes employees who may not be transferring, but who will still be affected because of the transfer.

A TUPE transfer can be an unsettling time for employees and they deserve to be part of the conversation, so preparation and understanding obligations of all parties are key ahead of embarking on the process in its entirety.

Nicky Valmas is Head of Organisational Change and HR Services at Connor.

Nicky has an extensive background that includes roles in Sales and Marketing, Procurement Consultancy and HR Business Partnering.

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page