When the business that employs you and enables you to pay the bills goes up for sale, the question every employee finds themselves asking is– “is my job secure if the company I work for is set to be sold?”

The recent announcement that Exeter-based airline Flybe (a company with 2,300 staff in the UK and which describes itself as Europe’s largest regional airline) is up for sale and might be sold to Virgin Atlantic, proves even large-scale corporate juggernauts are not exempt from this possibility.

The air of uncertainty created in such circumstances means that job security becomes a genuine worry. Should I jump ship early?; will I be dismissed?; will I receive monies that are due to me?; am I going to be demoted?, these are all perfectly valid questions.

However, it may not all be doom and gloom.   If the business is sold, provided the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (TUPE) applies to the sale, and the seller is solvent, your employment should automatically transfer to the buyer’s business. What’s more, the transfer should not break your period of continuous employment and all liabilities under your employment contract should pass to the buyer. This means any changes made to your terms of employment as a result of the transfer can be challenged as a breach of TUPE. Transferring employees would also have protection against dismissal, so you may be able to claim unfair dismissal if you are dismissed for a reason connected to the transfer.

It should be noted, however, that although TUPE provides protection, it does not necessarily mean that redundancy is off the table. Some restructuring will normally be on the cards following a sale of the business, and this could lead to voluntary or compulsory redundancies. Change is inevitable but, again, all is not lost. Employers sometimes offer (or may be obliged to offer) redundancy packages. Restructuring may therefore lead to the opportunity to negotiate and agree financial compensation in exchange for agreeing to be made redundant. Where an exit package or enhanced redundancy package is agreed, you may be required to agree a settlement agreement, and it is important to secure yourself the best possible deal when looking ahead. This is where we come in.

Where businesses face closure and are not bought out or rescued, loss of employment is a certainty, but your employer should still explore options such as relocation or redundancy.  In the unhappy situation of your employer ceasing trading due to insolvency, we can advise you on the possibility of securing payments that are due to you from the Redundancy Payments Service.

In the current uncertain financial climate, we are unfortunately seeing more businesses announcing they are to close their doors, such as in local, recent news that the charity which runs Hannahs, at Seale-Hayne campus in Newton Abbot, is set to close bringing about the loss of 40 jobs.  Please contact us if you are affected.

If your role is at risk and your employer approaches you with a settlement agreement, we can help with negotiating an exit package and advise on how to reach the best outcome. We can also advise on your legal position surrounding TUPE and on business closures, so please contact us with any of your employment law queries and a member of our team will be in touch.

Should you have an employment matter that you wish to discuss, please contact Kerry Curd on 01626 202406 or email kerrycurd@wbw.co.uk.