I work for a public sector organisation in the UK and the service we provide for the organistion has been outsourced to a private sector company. The tender has been signed and the new provider has had people on site doing information gathering exercises etc, they have been given login details to all the kit we currently manage. However there has not been a single meeting between management and the current team to discuss what is going on. I have had a few informal meetings which didnt really answer any questions.

Now that the tender has been signed and I have had a chance to see it I have asked on numerous occasions what is going on and am getting rebuffed with 'oh this is part of a wider organisation restructure, it would be wrong for us to focus on your team at the moment' style language. It doesnt seem right that with the tender signed and the new company literally onsite that the management dont want to meet the current team to discuss what this grand vision is. Our team is small and was not involved in writing or even checking the tender (or knowing of its existence), having now seen the tender and resulting PID (from the new company), its a mess, they have missed nearly 50% of the kit we manage (and according to the tender thats not because my employer has us in mind to keep managing it).

I have spoken to ACAS about this who said 'this doesnt sound right, you need to get clarification from your employer' but the employer are not even acknowledging my emails about it. I am not a member of a union and am currently not considering it so I cant go down that route. I just want to know what is happening.

I am struggling to find any rules or guidance around what the process is for outsourcing, particularly for a public sector org. I cant believe that not telling your existing employees fairly fundamental information about their jobs is acceptable. Are there rules or frameworks that companies need to follow in the UK when outsourcing? In one of my informal meetings with my manager they mentioned that TUPE had not been included so I dont know whether the whole TUPE framework (consultation etc) does not apply? I get it that 'go back to ACAS' may well be the next step but if there are regulations around this then they must be published somewhere?

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    I am not a member of a union and am currently not considering it - this may turn out to have been an expensive mistake, and something to reconsider in your next job.
    – Gh0stFish
    Nov 4, 2023 at 9:27
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    I can't tell from this description whether your job is being outsourced, and if so whether it's because management wants you doing something more important, wants you to have help, or wants you gone. All three are possible, and I think that's what you need to resolve before deciding how to react. (There have been tasks I was delighted to hand off to someone else, even if I had to supervise them and back them up when they didn't know enough.)
    – keshlam
    Nov 4, 2023 at 13:57

3 Answers 3


The UK Government has an Outsourcing Playbook that public sector bodies are supposed to follow, and is freely available to read, though a quick look suggests it is much more about how the relationship between public and private sector should be managed than how existing employees are treated in the process.

If they are planning redundancies there are rules that you can find on the gov.uk website, including, for example, that there must be a 30-day consultation period with trade union or employee-elected representatives if 20 or more people are too be made redundant, rising to 45 days for 100 or more.

TUPE would apply if they were planning to transfer your employment to the new provider. If they make you redundant as a result of giving your work to the contractor without offering you the chance to transfer, you may have a case for unfair dismissal.

Your line manager would be the person to ask about operational issues - if OutsourceCo are contracted to manage X and Y that were previously your job, what is your role now? There must be a plan, and it is their job to know the plan for their team, even if higher-ups cannot focus on one team in a wider reorganization.

In the UK public sector there is/are almost certainly one or more union(s) recognised by your employer for collective bargaining and representation purposes, with Unison being one of the main ones. You don't say why you are not currently considering joining one, but you would be well advised to find you local rep and speak to them - they may know more or be in discussions already, and if the employer is on shaky ground legally they will be all over it, with better legal advice than you can afford individually. They may well be able to tell you their take on the situation even as a non-member. If the union(s) is/are somehow not aware they will take an interest if there's the slightest chance that members are going to be affected. Give serious thought to joining - they're not going to start expensive legal action on behalf of a non-member, or an individual who only joined up once they had a problem, but will share the information they have, support you in getting answers and take your views and interests into consideration - and of course welcome the additional weight of numbers - in a group negotiation if that is necessary.

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    Hey, a detailed UK-specific response! Great!
    – keshlam
    Nov 5, 2023 at 17:43
  • I'm not sure about " better legal advice than you can afford individually". In the few interactions I've had the unions, they were behaving remarkably stupid doing considerable harm to their own constituents. That was in Germany though.
    – Hilmar
    Nov 6, 2023 at 1:25
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    @Hilmar, for sure not every position a union takes will be to everyone's taste, but the UK public sector unions have teams of full time, in house, experienced, specialist employment lawyers, who will be familiar with relevant case law, etc. I think it's justified to describe this as leading to "better" advice than one could expect from the high street solicitor that an individual might engage, even if one doesn't agree with everything the union does as a result.
    – Saes
    Nov 6, 2023 at 8:06
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    A key point is that OP should not focus on 'is the new contractor able to do my current task?' but rather on 'what is going to be my new task if the new contractor takes on my current task?'
    – quarague
    Nov 6, 2023 at 8:48
  • @Saes: that's good for the UK then. I have seen a public sector union in Germany doing things that were outright stupid. It significantly harmed the employees (who were furious) and left the employers scratching their head. Twice! it may have been well intended but the execution was terrible.
    – Hilmar
    Nov 7, 2023 at 2:36

The writing is on the wall

Your job is being outsourced and the likelihood that you will soon be made redundant is VERY high. The new company is taking over and there will be no more work for you.

Best you can do at this point, is polish your resume a and start looking. Do it now!

You MAY have some rights, but if you want to know for sure and what exactly they are, it's best to talk to a local labor lawyer. Knowing your rights may not help you keep your job (and why would you want that anyway) but it can certainly help to negotiate the terms of your departure: Things like severance, bridge pay, benefits extension, retirement plans, etc. Negotiation is also a thing a good lawyer can help with: Employers are a lot more generous to employees who know their stuff and have a lawyer in tow.

  • The obvious place to start looking for a new job is the company the function has been outsourced to. However the equivalent job at the outsourcing company almost certainly pays less and absolutely definitely has worse benefits than your job, or they wouldn't have got the contract. Nov 4, 2023 at 23:27
  • I am sorry, @Hilmar but this non-UK perspective is unhelpful and it is very much at odds with the very identifiable rights an UK employee at a public authority has and the cost of employing any employment solicitor is far beyond the pocket of most employees. The OP should be speaking to all his colleagues and they all join their relevant trade union en-masse and the union will provide the legal muscle for no cost other than each individual's subscription.
    – Nikki
    Nov 9, 2023 at 21:48
  • Additionally TUPE means continuity of employment and a new employer is limited in what they can and cannot do. The OP should metaphorically glue themselves to their desk and never enter a meeting with his existing employers without a union representative present. Employers lie.
    – Nikki
    Nov 9, 2023 at 21:51

I've encountered something like this before. I worked for a company that had a CEO, maybe in his 70s, decide to retire. He had resigned from the company prior, and got pulled back in to save the company from going under. So this time, it was final.

In the same week, the CFO announced her resignation. The stock tanked to a horribly low price.

The board found a new CEO within about three months who immediately fired the two executives above me. The CEO had an all-hands meeting to talk about transitions, and stated that he had any open door policy for anyone who wanted more information.

When I reached out to him that I'd been twiddling my thumbs at my desk for several weeks because all initiatives in my department had been paused, I got the most non-direct, non-distinct response ever. His fluffy response didn't tell me anything, and this was a red-flag to me.

I started looking for another job, and was hired at a place literally across the parking lot within three weeks. About five weeks after that, my old company laid off at least 95% of the people in the department I'd worked in.

In the long run, we all learned the CEO had been specifically hired to sell off business units and dismantle the company.

Run fast!

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