UK: The Introduction of UK Work Councils - Are you Prepared?

Last Updated: 21 October 2005
Article by Noel Deans

From 6 April 2005 all employers with at least 150 employees in the United Kingdom could be asked to set up employee information and consultation arrangements (or Works Councils) to comply with the Information and Consultation of Employees Regulations. There are good reasons why all affected employers should start preparing now.

How is the procedure triggered?

At first, the Regulations will only apply to organisations with at least 150 employees working in the United Kingdom. The Regulations will apply where there are at least 100 employees from 6 April 2007 and where there are at least 50 employees from 6 April 2008.

From 6 April 2005 either the employer or employees can "trigger" a procedure which should eventually lead to the establishment of information and consultation arrangements. Once the arrangements are established, employers will need to inform and consult with employee representatives over agreed subjects.

Arrangements can be set up before April 2005 to pre-empt the formal procedures set out in the Regulations. However, if the formal procedures are triggered and agreement is not reached, standard fall back arrangements will apply and it is against this backdrop that negotiations are likely to take place.

The introduction of these Regulations, are unlikely to be welcomed by many employers, though many are likely to be practical and, therefore, decide to make the best of things. This might be taking a positive approach and being seen to be a "good" employer. Effective planning and implementation are likely to take months rather than weeks and there will be advantages to making sure the arrangements are in place before April 2005. Set out below are some of the issues which will need to be considered by employers to whom the I&C Regulations apply.

Who do the regulations apply to?

As mentioned earlier, the I&C Regulations will apply to any employer which employs at least 150 employees in the United Kingdom. Employers will have to take account of all UK employees when trying to work out whether the 150 person threshold has been reached and this will also include part-time employees. An employer may incur a penalty of Ł75,000 where it fails to comply with its obligations under the Regulations.

Pre-existing arrangements

It is possible that some pre-existing agreements could qualify as an appropriate I&C arrangement. These would include a collective agreement concluded with a recognised trade union before the 6 April 2005 or an existing staff consultation body. Many employees already have collective staff councils and the employer will want to examine these carefully to see whether any changes would be necessary to comply with the new Regulations.

Will one arrangement fit all?

It is now clear that as long as all of the employees are covered by a suitable arrangement, there is no need for all of them to be covered by the same arrangement. So, it might be more appropriate, for example, to set up I&C bodies at a divisional level. However, if it is more convenient, an employer could have a single I&C arrangement to cover more than one group company. A significant factor will be who will negotiate on behalf of employees.

What will the employers and employees have to negotiate about?

One question that most employers will be concerned about is whether the I&C body will have the power to block employers’ decisions. The I&C Regulations provide for "negotiation with a view to reaching agreement". If agreement is not actually reached, then the employer may be able to make its own decisions. The I&C Body may, however, be able to delay the implementation process. The topics to be discussed will not be prescribed by the Regulations as long as agreement is reached. However, if employee representatives are to agree to I&C arrangements which provide for less than is required by the standard fall-back provisions they are likely to require an incentive. The fall-back arrangements provide for information and consultation on the following topics:

  • To provide information on the recent and probably development of the undertaking and economic situation;
  • To provide information and consult on the structure situation and probable development of employment, especially if there is an anticipated threat to employment and measures which are intended; and
  • To provide information and to consult with a view to reaching agreement on developments likely to lead to substantial changes in work organisation or contractual arrangements.

Limiting risk

It is important to note that if the employer is happy with the fall-back arrangements (or if the employer thinks it will not be able to do much better through negotiation) this will make the process simpler. The employer may, therefore, be happy to wait until employees trigger the process. The question which is worth asking is whether the procedure is likely to be triggered by the employees at all. If not, the employer may prefer to do nothing. However, there can be no certainty in this regard and most employers would be well advised to prepare, even if they think trigger is unlikely. A written request from at least 10% of employees will be enough to trigger an "endorsement ballot".

The next step

All affected employers would be well advised to start preparing thoroughly now as they are more likely to achieve their goals if they think hard about their own requirements whilst there is still time. Some of things that employers will need to consider are set out above, but the real issues for their particular business are only likely to be flushed out properly when managers start to think about the precise form and scope of their ideal I&C arrangements. Once this has been done, managers will be able to prioritise their "wish list", to identify items which they can afford to give away, and, most importantly, try to identify arrangements which both parties would be happy with and which will work for the business.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.

Disclaimer

Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.

Registration

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.

Cookies

A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.

Links

This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.

Mail-A-Friend

If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.

Security

This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.