New rules to protect IT staff

Trade and industry secretary Patricia Hewitt has announced proposals to give public sector workers better protection when a...

Trade and industry secretary Patricia Hewitt has announced proposals to give public sector workers better protection when a public service contract transfers to a private company.

The changes to the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981 (Tupe) are designed to reassure workers that "their rights will be safeguarded in the vital process of public sector reform", said Hewitt.

The proposals may have implications for IT workers in the public sector who are outsourced to a third-party service provider.

Yvonne Bennion, policy specialist at the Industrial Society, said, "[The proposals] look at how well people are looked after after the initial transfer. They also propose that workers are given adequate notice of any transfer. It is important for the IT industry because a lot of people are contracted out." However, Bennion called for further clarification of the way that pensions are transferred.

Lance Williams, director of leadership and change management at IT services company EDS, which has taken over many public sector contracts said the proposals are more relevant to the "secondary labour market", such as cleaning services.

"In my experience, IT workers from the public sector are already given very good exit provision, which remains a term of the contract even during retendering," said Williams.

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