Workplace Rights: 'Gold-plated' employment laws

Confused by long, wordy employment regulations? You're not the only one.

by Michael Burd and James Davies
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

Government plans to cut red tape for employers involve targeting legislation that is 'gold-plated', ie, more burdensome than European Union law requires. Take, for example, the Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment regulations (Tupe), which protect employees' rights on business transfers.

Tupe was extended in 2006 to cover all situations in which businesses contract out activities such as cleaning and catering or decide to change service providers. But while this goes beyond the EU concept of 'transfer of an undertaking', it's not necessarily a bad thing. Many in the outsourcing industry consider that a broad, consistent application of Tupe creates helpful certainty. There are, however, other areas in which Tupe could be usefully brought into line with European law, such as allowing employers more flexibility to change employees' terms and conditions in transfer situations. Another example is the notoriously problematic duty for employers to observe minimum consultation periods when planning collective redundancies. If ministers can inject some practical clarity into those rules, they deserve a medal that's more than just gold-plated.

- Michael Burd and James Davies, Lewis Silkin LLP solicitors, email:

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