A new draft of the Information and Consultation directive has raised fears that UK firms will no longer be able to phase in its introduction and that they could face tough penalties if they breach it.
At a meeting in Europe last week Fiorella Ghilardotti, who oversees the EU directive, published a draft which in- tends to reduce the flexibility within the original agreement, including prescriptive sanctions against companies across Europe and rapid implementation.
It throws doubt over the EU social council agreement struck on 11 June that UK firms with more than 150 employers have three years to implement the directive, those with more than 100 staff have five years and those with 50 or more, seven years.
David Yeandle, deputy director of the Engineering Employers Federation, said, "Informing and consulting employees on a regular basis about business issues can make a valuable contribution.
"However, a one-size-fits-all approach is not appropriate. Any directive must provide employers with flexibility in the way they implement it," he said.
Employers bodies in the UK are calling on MEPs to avoid prescriptive sanctions, and allow businesses to adapt through phased implementation.
The European Parliament is set to vote on the issue between 22 and 25 October.