DTI launches revised guides on consultation directive

The
Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has issued revised draft regulations and
guidance notes for the introduction of the European Information and
Consultation Directive (ICD).

Under
European law, arrangements for informing and consulting UK employees in
companies with more than 150 staff must be in force by 23 March 2005.

Under
the terms of the ICD, staff have a right to be informed about the business’
economic situation and important changes in the company if at least 10 per cent
of employees request it.

The
DTI is consulting on the draft guidance which aims to clearly explain the new
law and meet demands for a brief overview with links to more detailed
information for those with specific questions.

The
guide is being published in response to last year’s consultation seeking views
on key implementation issues. The closing date for responses is 22 October.

The
new draft regulations deal with many of the detailed issues that the previous
draft failed to deal with, such as:


whether the agreements can cover more than one group company


the possibility of an overlap with existing transfer of undertakings and
redundancy collective consultation laws


whether arrangements can be put in place by collective agreement


the time allowed from the ‘trigger’ request to the start of negotiations being
increased from one month to three months


requests that count towards the ‘trigger’ threshold now only being valid for
six months.

Juliet
Carp, employment lawyer at law firm Speechly Bircham, said it was unclear
whether the draft regulations will be the ‘final’ regulations, or whether there
will be further changes, as they must still be debated in the House of Lords
and the Commons.

“Employers
will just have to do the best they can with the existing draft,” she said.

Martin Warren, partner at law firm Eversheds said: “The
long-awaited revised regulations for information and consultation should be
welcomed by UK employers as it clarifies exactly what is expected of them in
the future in terms of employee consultation.

 

“Flexibility will be the key to the success of the European
regulations and hopefully the Government has taken into account the cultural
differences between UK companies and our European cousins in terms of
implementation," he said. "Now we must look at the detail of the
draft guidance and clarify any unresolved issues that may affect its successful
implementation.”

For
an updated draft of the regulations see, go to http://www.dti.gov.uk/er/consultation/draftregs.pdf

By Michael Millar

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