How will National Works Councils affect UK firms?

first_imgFromMarch 2005, the Information and Consultation Directive will give UK workers anew right to minimum standards of information and consultation. This article answersyour questions on its likely impactIf a company has a European Works Council, does it also need a nationalworks council? The new requirement to have an employee consultative body at national level shouldnot be confused with the existing requirement to have a European Works Council(if a valid request for one is received from staff). However, if an organisation’s European Works Council is based in the UK, itmay be able to function as the national works council as well. But untilregulations on implementing national works councils are in place, thisrequirement will remain uncertain. There may also be practical difficulties relating to confidentiality whendealing with UK-specific matters. Will the directive apply to my company, and what is the deadline forcompliance? This depends on the number of workers in your company. All the evidence sofar is that the Government will decide that only businesses with more than 50staff will need to comply with the directive. The Government estimates thedirective will only apply to 1 per cent of all UK companies, although this willcover 75 per cent of employees. When businesses will actually have to comply is based on a sliding scale,which also depends on the number of staff. What are my company’s information and consultation obligations? The right to information and consultation will cover: – Information on the recent and probable development of the business’activities and economic situation – Information and consultation on the situation, structure and probabledevelopment of employment within the business and on any anticipatory measuresenvisaged, in particular where there is a threat to employment (ie,redundancies) – Information and consultation on decisions likely to lead to substantialchanges in work organisation or in contractual relations, including decisionsalready caught under the TUPE and collective redundancies information andconsultation obligations. It is unclear how much detail the Government will set out or exactly whatthese categories mean. However, some examples of areas that might be consideredare TUPE transfers, redundancies, changes to working conditions, restructuring,financial accounts, health and safety issues, business plans, environmentalissues, training and employee development. The list is potentially very long. How do the new requirements compare with current UK information andconsultation obligations? At present, there is no general framework requiring employers to set upstanding arrangements for informing and consulting with employeerepresentatives on general business issues that may impact on staff. There arespecific requirements obliging employers to inform and consult in relation toTUPE transfers, collective redundancies and other issues. However, theseobligations are usually only triggered after a specific event, such as aredundancy situation, or a business transfer. Under the new directive, staff representatives will have the right to beinformed and consulted on a very wide range of matters, potentially spanningall areas of business activity. They will also have the right to be informed ona continual basis, not just on the occurrence of single trigger events, as inmuch of the current legislation. When does the information have to be given and consultation have tooccur? The directive states that information should be given to staffrepresentatives ‘at such time, in such fashion and with such content’ as are appropriateto enable them to conduct an adequate study and, where necessary, prepare forconsultation. The timing, method and content of consultation should be ‘appropriate’ andit should be conducted at the relevant level of management and representation(depending on the subject under discussion) and on the basis of informationsupplied by the employer, and an opinion formulated by the staffrepresentatives. The first step, therefore, is to provide information. Once therepresentatives have had an opportunity to consider the information, you mustconsult with them. You must allow staff representatives to meet with thecompany and give a response to any opinion they put forward, together with areason for that response. Consultation must also be ‘with a view to reaching anagreement’ on certain decisions. However, nothing in the directive gives staff the power to make decisions oroverride or affect an employer’s decision. Therefore, the national workscouncil will not have any power to legally negotiate or bargain with theemployer. But for the sake of good employee relations, you may decide to acceptits wishes at times. This is an edited version of part of Personnel Today’s One Stop Guide toEmployee Consultation How will National Works Councils affect UK firms?On 1 Jul 2003 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Articlelast_img read more