By HRZone member Sandra Beale of SJ Beale HR Consult.
To promote mutual trust between employer and employee, increase flexibility of business, improve competitiveness, align training and development to business needs and increase ability of business to anticipate risk – these are just some of the aims of the Information & Consultations Regulations 2005 being implemented from March 2005 and come into force from 6 April 2005.
The full regulations are to be introduced with a phased implementation depending on the number of individuals employed by an organisation. For those with 150+ employees the legislation applies from March 2005, with 100+ employees from March 2007 and with 50+ employees from March 2008.
Information means “the transmission by the employer to the employees’ representatives of data in order to enable them to acquaint themselves with the subject matter and to examine it” according to the ACAS definition. The subjects that the organisation can inform on include:
- Financial state of business
- Business re-organisation
- Changes in production/services
Consultation, on the other hand, according to ACAS, means “the exchange of views and establishment of dialogue between the employees’ representatives and the employer.” Issues in this category can include:
- Expansion plans
- Staff changes
- Changes to HR policies & procedures
- Potential redundancies
With consultation, management, however, do retain “the right to manage” and make the final decision, the aim is seek employees’ views before doing so.
The requirements of the Information & Consultation Regulations state that a formal committee is not necessarily needed, but that mutual agreement on communication methods is sought. Informal methods can include a director’s brief, team or newsletters for example.
However, a formal forum could be created to inform and consult on business issues and to encourage feedback so that two-way communication is improved.
With no mechanism in place organisations that receive a request from 10% of the workforce (25% with 60 employees or less) are legally obliged to create a formal communication forum with management entering into negotiations with appointed employee representatives and developing a written constitution. This may be in the form of a union, works council, staff committee or staff association.
Other issues to consider are the number of representatives to appoint, the training they should receive so that they fully understand their role, particularly for disseminating information to the employees they represent, and how the communication forum will be marketed internally.
For those organisations that ignore a request to implement an information & consultation body the Central Arbitration Committee have enforcement powers and fines for non-compliance can be up £75,000.
Organisations that have a mechanism in place already should review their procedures so that all the governing rules and regulations are written down, it has the employees’ approval and covers the entire workforce.
Research carried out by the CIPD has shown that employees who are involved and engaged in matters that affect the business are more likely to be motivated and committed which should be assisted by the implementation of these regulations.
Disclaimer – this information is for guidance purposes only and is not substitute for professional legal advice. SJ Beale HR Consult accepts no liability for any actions taken linked to this information.
To find out more about this legislation contact Sandra Beale of SJ Beale HR Consult on T: 07762 771290 or email mailto:[email protected] There is a workshop on the subject on Friday 3 December in Northampton – phone for more details.