HR has to take lead on new consultation laws

HR professionals must act now to help organisations comply with the EU
directive on informing and consulting with staff.

This is the view of Professor Keith Sisson, co-author of a report on the
impact of the directive, which means employers will have an obligation to
inform and consult employee representatives about a range of business issues
including redundancies and restructuring.

Sisson, of Warwick Business School, believes employers have a "unique
opportunity" to improve relationships with employees and trade unions as
they adapt their policies to comply with the EU directive – but only if HR
takes a lead. Sisson warns that the HR profession must be prepared to help
organisations deal with this employment relations culture change.

He said: "The HR workload will be pretty substantial. Training line
managers, senior managers and staff to operate in a culture of open information
will be the major challenge."

Sisson also warns that those organisations that don’t shape up risk having
European-style works councils imposed on them.

"HR must be in a position to advise senior line managers and to make
sure that the employer acts before staff do. It must look at its policies on
informing and consulting and look to update them," he said.

The study, Works Councils for the UK? Assessing the Impact of the EU
employee consultation directive, advises that the creation of effective
partnership agreements between employers and trade unions will help
organisations comply with the directive, which will become law for firms with
more than 150 employees by 2005.

Warwick Business School wrote the report with the Industrial Relations

By Paul nelson

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