CONTROVERSIAL changes to the rules affecting workers when businesses change ownership could lead to a fall in employment tribunals, it is claimed.

The government introduced changes to the TUPE regulations last month.

TUPE – or Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) – regulations are intended to ensure staff do not unfairly lose out when a transfer takes place.

They set out the rules that the old and new employer must follow.

The government’s changes to the rules have been opposed by the TUC, which warns they could drive down terms and conditions for vulnerable workers.

But employment relations minister Jo Swinson said the latest changes would “clear out the cobwebs” in some of the TUPE rules.

Kate Brooks, an associate with the Dorset and New Forest law firm Ellis Jones Solicitors, said the TUPE changes were less dramatic than those that were originally proposed.

But she said the legislation “remains complex” for businesses and individuals.

She added: “The legislation has been relaxed in some places, which means that it is likely that there will be a drop in TUPE claims lodged in employment tribunals.”

TUPE protect terms and conditions when a business is transferred from one owner to another.

But under the reforms, businesses will be able to renegotiate terms and conditions a year after a change in employer, provided that overall the change is no less favourable.

Another reform will mean that businesses will not face unfair dismissal claims solely for making people redundant because of a change in location.

The TUC says the changes will mean TUPE will not always apply on occasions when services are outsourced.

It says the changes will erode pay and condition for low-paid staff in sectors such as cleaning, social care and catering where outsourcing is common.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady has said the changes “could see hundreds of thousands of vulnerable workers lose out on vital protections at work”.

“Weakening guarantees on pay and conditions will encourage companies to compete for contracts based solely on wage and other employment costs, and not on the quality of service,” she said.