For better and for worse: Transfer of undertakings and the reshaping of employment relations

Fang Lee Cooke, Jill Earnshaw, Mick Marchington, Jill Rubery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


During the 1980s, the number of transfers of undertakings has doubled every three years at EU level, accounting for 40 per cent of the global number of business transfers. Yet limited research has been carried out to investigate how terms and conditions of employment and other work-related experience may have changed for the workers who have been transferred from the transferor employer to the transferee employer. Although relevant legislation (TUPE Regulations) is in place with the objective of protecting these workers' employment rights, the effectiveness of the regulations has proved less than convincing. The intention of this paper is to explore, through an in-depth case-study approach, the wider issues concerning employment relations and experience of work in the context of transfers of undertakings. This paper argues that TUPE provides only limited protection for the rights of the transferred workers with the transferee. When a transfer of an undertaking takes place, the employment relationship between the transferee and the transferred workers will be different even if the explicitly defined contractual terms and conditions remain unchanged.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)276-294
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Human Resource Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Employment contract
  • Employment relations
  • Experience of work
  • Transfer of undertaking

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