The Work Foundation allays fears over consultation

Employers’
concerns that new consultation laws will disrupt business are unfounded, says
The Work Foundation.

In
its report New Dialogue at Work – Making Consultation Law Work, The Work
Foundation refutes employers’ claims that proposed EU legislation requiring
employers to consult with staff over major business decisions will lead to
sensitive corporate information being leaked and slow down decision-making.

“This
study suggests new information and consultation rights will be much less
disruptive to business than critics forecast,” says Patrick Burns, director of
advocacy at the Work Foundation and co-author of the report. “Many companies
already do what the likely legislation will require.”

Employers’
organisations oppose the legislation, which will require any companies with 50
employees or more to consult staff about important decisions. They are
concerned that staff will leak commercially sensitive information, so
jeopardising share prices, competitive position or mergers and acquisitions.
Employers also complain that workplace representatives might start demanding
negotiation rights on business strategy.

The
Work Foundation says interviews with personnel professionals show that managers
are as likely as employee reps to leak corporate secrets. It says clear
guidelines are needed to ensure employees know how to deal with classified
information.

The
DTI is drawing up the draft legislation and is expected to begin consultation
on it next month. Burns says it should draw up guidelines to make the
legislation work. “The DTI now needs to do a lot of practical piloting to help
and guide employers and workforce reps for whom consultation will be a new
experience,” he says.

By Ben Willmott

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