Firms alerted to extension of Information and Consultation of Employees Regulations to smaller companies

Firms employing 100 or more staff have been reminded that employer obligations under the Information and Consultation of Employees (ICE) Regulations will be extended from 6 April.

The regulations, which carry penalties of up to £75,000 for non-compliance, previously applied only to firms employing upwards of 150 people. Partnerships, charities, associations, and public bodies will also be affected by the changes.

The ICE regulations give employees rights to be informed and consulted on a regular basis about issues in the business for which they work.

The requirement to inform and consult employees does not operate automatically; it is triggered either by a formal request from employees for an agreement, or by employers choosing to start the process themselves.

Peter Schofield, director, employment and legal affairs at manufacturers’ organisation EEF, said about 10,000 smaller companies could be affected by the changes.

“We are advising employers that these arrangements do not need to be onerous. In fact, there is much to be said for putting purely voluntary arrangements in place rather than waiting to see if employees call for an agreement under the regulations,” he said.

The law is being extended on 6 April as a requirement of the associated EU directive. It will be extended again on 6 April 2008 to include companies with 50 or more employees.

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