Power of EU law depends on UK’s interpretation

The EU directive on information and consultation will not transform the way
UK companies have to communicate with their workforce, according to the CIPD.

Diane Sinclair, CIPD adviser on employee relations, says the UK will be able
to introduce its own interpretation of the directive, which will set a legal
requirement for all companies with more than 50 staff to consult them on all
key business issues.

She said, "The directive clearly leaves the practical arrangements for
informing and consulting employees to be defined by the member states. Thus,
much will depend on the way that the directive is implemented in the UK.

"Given its persistent opposition to the proposal, and its abstention
from the final vote, it seems very unlikely that the UK Government will
‘gold-plate’ the directive. Indeed, it has already stated that it will take
full advantage of the flexibility allowed by the text, which it worked hard to
negotiate."

Under the EU directive, UK firms with more than 150 employers have just
three years to implement the directive, those with more than 100 staff have
five years and those with a workforce of more than 50 have seven years.

Sinclair added that where management and employees agree, organisations may
be able to meet the requirements of the new law by communicating directly with
employees, rather than through representative structures such as works
councils.

Sinclair suggests e-mails or letters could be sent to employees informing
them of business issues or changes to work organisation and inviting them to
comment. Staff briefings could also be used to inform and consult employees.

www.cipd.co.uk

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