Brain Food: Workplace rights - Walking the talk

Regulations on informing and consulting employees start to apply on 6 April, heralding a sea-change in British industrial relations. Unlike other EU nations, this country has no established tradition of works councils comprising management and labour representatives. Until now, UK employers have had no general legal obligations to inform and consult workers before taking commercial decisions that affect them. Implementation of the new regime, which derives from an EU directive, will be on a phased basis. The regulations will apply initially to organisations with 150 or more employees, extending to employers with at least 100 staff by April 2007 and to those with 50-plus a year later. Businesses caught by the legislation will have to negotiate formal information and consultation arrangements if 10% or more of staff request them. But employers can avoid this if they put in place a voluntary Pre-Existing Agreement (PEA), approved by staff, in advance of 6 April. A PEA can be more flexible than the onerous 'default' rules in the regulations, though processing one is normally a sensitive and long process. Organisations with 150 or more staff that have not already set the ball rolling may find they have left it too late.

by Michael Burd and James Davies, Lewis Silkin solicitors, e-mail:
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

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