Certain employers of larger businesses are required to establish information and consultation arrangements in their workplace. These regulations were first introduced in 2005 to give effect to the European Directive on Information and Consultation. Employers cannot exclude or limit the application of the regulations.

The final implementation stage has now been reached and since April 2008 the regulations apply to all employers with 50 or more employees. Employers with less then 50 employees are not subject to the regulations. However, the Government has indicated that as a matter of good practice all businesses regardless of their size or the nature of their activities are encouraged to inform and consult with their employees on an ongoing basis about matters which affect them in a way that is appropriate for their particular circumstances.

The process of reaching a negotiated agreement in this area will usually be triggered by a request to initiate negotiations from an employee or by notification from the employer to initiate negotiations. There are various regulations and qualifying requirements for employees to complete. If the parties fail to reach an agreement within a six month period or any agreed extended period there is a standard set of information and consultation provisions which will apply. The guidelines suggest that the basic provisions to be covered in any such negotiated agreement are:

  • Coverage, to confirm which employees will be covered and whether separate arrangements will cover different parts of the business
  • Methods of informing and consulting, for example whether there should be representatives or direct consultation with the employees, how many representatives will be chosen and how long they will serve
  • Frequency and timing of information and consultation, for example how often information and consultation will take place
    • Subject matter, including the types of topics to be covered by the obligations to inform and consult
    • Information and consultation, to include the type and nature of the information to be provided
  • Statutory consultation requirements, including how other legal requirements to consult employees will be handled
    • Confidential information and how this will be dealt with
    • Disputes
    • Restructuring
    • Duration of the agreement

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