Outsourcing - the rise & the risks of business transfers


Recent articles in the news media have emphasised the rise of outsourcing and the potential boost for the UK economy. A recent report in The Times (10/12/15) highlights the increasing importance of outsourcing as a driver, with almost 10% of the UK workforce, over 3m jobs, now employed in outsourced undertakings. In the 3rd quarter of 2015 over £2bn of outsourced contracts were agreed, an increase of 69 per cent on 2014. The Business Services Association (BSA) recently published research that shows an increase of 1% in outsourcing adds £2bn in productivity gains annually to the UK economy. In the public sector alone outsourced frontline public services generate £48.1bn in revenue.

There has always been a difference in perception of outsourcing, however, with many viewing it as overseas call-centres, companies driving down costs and poorer customer service, as well as poorer experiences for transferred employees, something that many companies are keen to refute. However, it does emphasise the need to get it right, both for the bottom line and for the welfare of those working in the outsourced undertakings. Getting it right not only involves sound legal practice and an understanding of TUPE but effective planning, clear and timely consultation processes and due diligence.

In our experience many problems are caused by poor preparation and hasty consultation arrangements, with many employees and their representatives given little clarity about what is happening. Even where there is clarity of process many aren’t clear about the impact on their terms and conditions.

We believe that Acas can help employers who are contemplating business transfers and outsourcing with developing effective information and consultation processes that really improve the interface with employees and trade unions. For some years now we have run 2 TUPE conferences annually providing valuable information for delegates from around the UK and across industry and commerce. 2016 is no different; we are planning 2 more events in Birmingham, one in the early summer and another in late autumn.

We are fortunate that a consistent factor in all of the events we have run has been Dr John McMullen, a partner in Wrigleys Solicitors LLP. John is a former Acas Council member, one of the UK’s leading lawyers and variously known as the “TUPE guru” and “Mr TUPE”. His breadth of understanding of the subject is only matched by his ability to communicate it in ways that are understandable to the lay person. John has again agreed to talk at our conferences.

We also have the support of Sue Gavin, an experienced strategic HR specialist, who has a detailed grasp of outsourcing across the logistics industry and beyond.  Sue has worked for DHL and she has an almost unrivalled knowledge of due diligence and the practical aspects of managing large and small-scale outsourcing projects.

Express your interest in further information by e-mailing Jon Dews at Acas West Midlands at jdews@acas.org.uk.