Employment Law Core Elements – What’s the Law on Transfer of Undertakings (TUPE)

This legislation protects the individual rights of employees affected by a business transfer. It is a complex area within the employment law arena.

The Irish law is based on EU regulations. The protections afforded employees relate primarily to protection of employment conditions and individual employment contracts. Employees affected by a business transfer are given information & consultation rights and the preservation of employment is also significantly protected as a core tenet.

The regulations apply to all business transfers, either whole or partial. The scope covers all employees in any business that is either transferred to another business, acquired by another business or merged with another business.

Typically a transfer is deemed to have occurred where there is a change of employer.

With limited allowable exceptions, continuity of employment is also another right preserved in a transfer.

Employee dismissal by either the company being transferred or the company receiving the transfer is specifically prohibited on the sole grounds of the transfer taking place.

There is however a specific ground upon which employee dismissal can be actioned. This is provided for if the required dismissals relate to economic, technical or organisational reasons. Often this is vague and open to interpretation. In such scenarios the total new combined workforce must be considered when deciding on any required redundancies and there must be clear factual evidence to support such decisions.

Both the transferor company and the transferee company are obliged to consult with their respective employee populations prior to the transfer actually happening.

The relevant piece of legislation that details the above is ‘The Transfer of Undertakings Regulations, 2003’.