Employment minister calls in HR to make EU directive work

The government minister responsible for introducing the EU Information and
Consultation Directive has said it is down to HR to make the new rules work.

Employment relations minister Gerry Sutcliffe said HR’s role in the
directive’s implementation was crucial, and that the Government needed the
function’s guidance to ensure a smooth introduction.

The controversial directive, designed to ensure staff are fully consulted
about business decisions affecting employment, will come into force for larger
companies in March 2005.

Sutcliffe told delegates at the CIPD conference that the new laws would form
a key part of the Government’s strategy for creating high-performance
workplaces and raising productivity.

"This directive is about companies making their staff feel part of the
team, and not part of the furniture. When employers understand more about the
business they work in, they are more motivated and enthusiastic, which will
lead to higher productivity," he explained.

Sutcliffe is convinced the directive will ensure greater staff involvement
in business operations and said it could transform employment relations.

"This is not just about redundancies. It is about a new culture of
involvement based on partnership, not just in times of crisis, but on a
day-to-day basis.

"The way a company deals with its people is fundamental to its overall
success," he added.

He cited the example of a North East Co-op, where takings had increased by 6
per cent after staff were given more input on how the store was managed.

He explained there was no single method of complying with the laws, and said
the DTI had deliberately created a flexible framework so that employers could
introduce the best fit for their organisation.

However, he conceded that many employers and individual managers would need
new skills to make the consultation process work properly.

The deadline for the DTI consultation on the new rules is 7 November.

By Ross WIgham

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