A recent article in the Irish Times this week higlights the general unease many employees feel when there is a merger or acquisition. Many are unsure if their job is safe or that a transfer may mean for them. Many simply don’t understand their rights and entitlements.

We have set out below some questions you may find yourself asking and hopefully answer these in a simple clear manner.

  1. What are the Transfer of Undertaking Regulations and who do they apply to?

Put simply the law says that these Regulations apply whenever a business or part of a business is transferred from one employer to another or there is a merger or joining of two businesses.

The Regulations apply to both public and private businesses once they are engaged or involved in “economic activity”. It does not matter if the business is charitable or not.

As an employee, they apply to you if you work under a contract of employment, are employed through an employment agency or you are a civil servant.

2. What do the Regulations mean for me as an employee? What rights do I have?

Put simply, an employee’s or your rights and entitlements under your contract of employment move from your old or current employer to the new employer (with the exception of pensions outlined below). The new employer must honour your terms and conditions of employment. It does not matter if you do not have a written contract of employment.

The new employer must also honour any collective agreement which may be in place. A collective agreement is generally made between a trade union or unions and either your employer, a group of employers or an employers’ organisation.

A simple example of where the Regulations apply is where you are employed by Company A as a supermarket assistant in their supermarket. A new company buys or takes over the supermarket including all the stock, employees etc. If the Regulations apply, then you are entitled to continue to be employed by the new supermarket owner.

If you enjoyed certain benefits and entitlements in your old job like a travel pass, sick pay scheme and enhanced holidays, then your new employer has to continue to honour these. There are some exceptions however but this applies in general.

You cannot be dismissed because of the transfer of the business unless an employer can show that there were economic, technical or organisational reasons requiring changes. Simply put the new employer cannot simply dismiss you or refuse to employ you. If they do, they will need to show for example that they have too many employees and will need to make redundancies.

3. What happens to my pension if my employer’s business is taken over?

Put simply pension rights covering old age, invalidity or survivor’s benefits under supplementary company or inter company pension schemes (over and above those provided in the Social Welfare Acts) do not transfer to the new employer and they do not have to honour them.

Pension rights of employees and people no longer employed in the employer’s business under a company pension scheme are protected however.

The Pensions Authority are very helpful in dealing with any general pension queries and their contact details can be found on their website.

4. Does my employer or the new employer have to tell me about the business being sold or transferred?

The simple answer is yes. Both your current and new employer must tell you the following:

(a) the date or proposed date of the transfer of the business

(b) the reasons for the transfer

(c) what does the transfer mean for you as an employee i.e. this should tell you that all your current terms and conditions transfer to your new employer and any other relevant information

You should be told this information as soon as possible but not later than 30 days before the date on which the business is transferring.

If you have an employee representative in work, your employer may speak with them or allow a representative to be put in place on behalf of all the employees. Ultimately you are entitled to this information in writing.

4. What happens if the new employer dismisses me or changes my terms and conditions of employment? What happens if my employer or new employer fail to tell me what is going on?

The good news is that the Regulations provide help!

If your employer fails to tell you what is happening or dismisses you, you can make a complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission. This is a body designed to help you with any employment relates problems and their website can be found here.

You can be awarded up to 4 week’s salary if your employer fails to tell you what is happening (at the latest 30 days before your job is due to transfer).

If your employer dismisses you or changes your terms and conditions so much that you may have to leave, you could be awarded up to 2 year’s salary.

The above is a simple summary of the Transfer Regulations and what they may mean for you. If you are worried about your job or whether the Regulations apply to you then just call us on 01 517 5900 or 0868509429!

We will chat to you on a no obligation basis.