The era of business transfers is here for good – and Midland companies have been urged to get to grips with TUPE legislation or risk damaging consequences.

The importance of understanding TUPE was hammered home at a one-day conference, ‘Simplify TUPE in a day’ hosted by conciliation service ACAS at the National Motorcycle Museum.

The Transfer of Undertakings Regulations, or TUPE as it is commonly known, protects employee rights when the business or undertaking for which they work transfers to a new employer.

Acas West Midlands Director Malcolm Boswell said: “The trend for business transfers is not going away, with traditional mergers and acquisitions being supplemented by the drive towards shared services and employee buy-ins.

“Many employers will find they have to manage groups of employees who come from different organisational cultures, with different terms and conditions.

“Getting the people issues right is just as vital as meeting the legal requirements placed upon employers.

“One area that continues to hit the headlines is outsourcing. Outsourcing is set to raise complex challenges for traditional employment relationships and employers need to ensure that regular contact between client companies and suppliers is maintained.

“It’s also vital that employers develop channels for employee  communication so that any concerns can be aired early on to tackle potential conflict. Consultation is key.”

Top tips for business transfers:

• Consult as extensively as possible

• Engage with trade unions - they can make all the difference in how smoothly a transfer happens

• Seek advice before changing terms and conditions of employment. Do so preferably by agreement and not for reasons solely connected with the transfer such as a desire to harmonise terms and conditions of employment.

• If acquiring a company, always seek to secure warranties and indemnities from the selling company for any employment related claims arising out of the transfer

• Seek professional advice from Acas and your legal advisers if you are unsure about the TUPE process or have further questions.