Community Sector TUPE Transfers and LGBT Members

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2014 Community Service Group Conference
9 November 2013

Conference notes that TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings Protection in Employment Regulations) has maintained hard won employment terms and conditions and the protection from discrimination in the community sector, with sound public sector equality policies and procedures.

TUPE means that the new employer “steps into the shoes” of the old employer and is bound by the terms of the contracts of existing employees, with the exception of pensions (although the new employer still has to provide a minimum level of benefits) and employees retain their continuity of employment.

TUPE is applicable in the community sector both when workers previously employed in the public sector are transferred into community sector as a result of privatisation or where people are transferred from employer to employer as a result of re-commissioning.

Conference is concerned, however, that TUPE is being increasingly challenged and eroded. This is by the determination of this Tory-led government to undermine all trade union rights, by cavalier private sector companies eager to take over swathes of the public sector to make profit for their shareholders and by some employers in the community sector.

With the erosion of TUPE, LGBT members who previously worked in the public sector face the decimation of their fairly negotiated terms and conditions, including policies and procedures that made it safer to be an out LGBT employee.

Where employers are looking to cut costs, equality and diversity policy and practice is often one of the first areas to be cut.

Conference notes that the public sector equality duty primarily applies to public bodies and those private and community organisations who deliver a public service on behalf a public body. However, more and more employers in the community sector see themselves as closer to the private sector than the public sector in terms of overall ethos – including open hostility to trade unions.

For all these reasons the rights of LGBT workers are being pushed further and further down the agenda.

This community service group conference believes that an organised workplace, with high density and an informed and engaged membership, will ensure greater influence and raised levels of influence in local and national community bargaining forums to protect our members’ rights.

Conference therefore resolves to ask the community service group executive, in liaison with the national LGBT committee, to:

i) Continue to promote UNISON’s campaign to fight the erosion of TUPE

ii) Circulate UNISON advice on negotiating policies on LGBT workers equality and on ensuring equality provisions are maintained under TUPE transfers

iii) Collate information from community branches on their employer’s practices in respect of LGBT equality and their use of the public sector equality duty

iv) Promote good practice examples on LGBT equality in the community sector to all community branches.