Employer anger over lack of consultation

By Paul Nelson

Employer bodies are making formal complaints to the Government this week over the Information Commission’s handling of the code on monitoring in the workplace.

The CIPD and CBI have protested over the complexity, length and content of the code, and accused the Information Commission of not providing an adequate opportunity for consultation.

Diane Sinclair, lead adviser on public policy at the CIPD, claims the commission’s failure to clarify what is best practice or legal requirement in the code will create difficulties for HR.

“We are dissatisfied with the Information Commission’s response to our complaints concerning the code,” she said. “I again raised the legality of the code and the separation between best practice and the law, but I was told the decision over the format has been made and will not change. This is wholly unsatisfactory – if the Information Commission is unable to separate the two then how will employers?”

The CIPD and CBI also complained about being given only 10 days to respond to the final draft of the monitoring code.

Susannah Haan, legal adviser to the CBI, said: “The problem is over what is consultation? Is it that the Information Commission gets to chose who they consult with, who can respond and when it is done? It needs wider consultation and more time for organisations to respond – even if that means more work for the commission.”

Both bodies want the release of the code to be delayed to allow for a four-week and wider consultation process.

David Smith, deputy information commissioner, claimed the commission had met and surpassed its obligations to consult and will not change the code’s structure.

“We do listen to suggestions at meetings and have made changes accordingly,” he said.

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