When I was asked to write some new guidance on the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations - TUPE to you and me - my heart sank.

Carole Sayer

Carole Sayer is a Guidance Advisor at Acas.

How do you make a subject like TUPE straightforward and understandable? How to you translate a very complex piece of legislation into a practical process for employers, employees and employee representatives to follow at work? The initial response of friends I spoke to wasn't encouraging: a deep intake of breath was followed by a knowing shake of the head.

Undeterred, I started reading and talking to operational colleagues. It didn't take long to realise that yes, TUPE can be a bit of a monster, but it's a monster we need to embrace.

As a recent Acas policy paper highlighted, outsourcing and mergers have become a part of business life for many organisations. And research suggests that this trend is only likely to increase as pressure is exerted on the public sector to cut costs and increase efficiency. A 2013 government impact assessment indicated there are between 26,500 and 48,000 TUPE transfers each year and that it affects between 1.42 million and 2.11 million employees.

This statistic is backed up by our own experience. The Acas helpline received 27,500 calls on TUPE between January and December 2013. This equates to around 3.2% of all our calls - a really high percentage for just one topic. And a recent case study from the Acas research team shows the impact that good employment relations can have on making TUPE transitions as smooth as possible.

Drafting a short leaflet to help explain the 2014 TUPE legal changes helped me get a handle on some of the headline issues. The leaflet has proved very popular, with over 20,000 downloads in the first 8 weeks.

Perhaps the obvious popularity of TUPE helped me to like it a bit more. I soon found many other people with a deep interest and understanding of the subject. The end product is, I hope, a fairly comprehensive, but accessible guide to conducting a TUPE transfer.

The guidance splits the TUPE process down into 4 stages and tells you what actions to take at each stage. This is backed up by a sample TUPE process plan. There is also a sample employee liability/due diligence form and a comprehensive glossary.

Do you have any experiences of going through a TUPE? If so, I would be very interested to hear them. Good or bad: TUPE matters and it is not going anywhere fast, so the sooner we get to know how it works the better.