HR holds key to succesful implementation of consultation directive

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 will mean employers will have an obligation to inform and
consult employee representatives about a range of business issues including
redundancies and restructuring.

Sisson
believes that 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,
of Warwick Business School which conducted the joint report with Industrial
Relations Services, warns that the HR profession must be prepared to help
organisations deal with the employment relations culture change the legislation
will bring.

"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," he said.

Sisson
warns that those organisations that don’t update their arrangements to inform
and consult with staff risk having European-style works councils imposed on
them.

"HR
must be in a position to advise senior line managers and to make sure the
employer acts before staff do. It must argue with senior managers to act now
and not wait until the directive becomes UK law. It must look at existing
policies on informing and consultation 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 becomes law for firms with more than 150 employees by
2005.

www.irsonline.co.uk

By Paul Nelson

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