European Commission proposals to force all employers with more than 50 employees to consult their staff on key business decisions will paralyse the HR function.
Employers were queuing up this week to castigate the EC draft directive on information and consultation as prescriptive and bureaucratic.
Their comments come as fears mount that France will use their six-month presidency of the EU, led by Jacques Chirac, to promote an ambitious social agenda.
CBI head of employee relations Dominic Johnson warned the directive would tie HR up with bureaucracy, reducing the contribution it can make to the business. “HR would be in the front line making sure consultation had taken place. It would be just another compliance role rather than getting on with delivering better business performance through effective people management.”
Susan Gibas, secretary-general of the European Human Resource Network, said it is important that the implications of the proposals for HR are scrutinised even though implementation could be at least 18 months away. She said, “It is about time that people were woken up to the possibilities.”
Other HR professionals reacted with alarm to the proposals. Bruce Warman, director of personnel at Vauxhall Motors, said HR practitioners had to make their voices heard. “The message is, get real. In HR this will interfere with what companies are trying to do strategically. “
HR director at ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne Alisdair MacInnes said mechanisms for consultation were already in place. “We would not see any benefit from something being enforced,” he said.
At present, only firms with more than 1,000 staff and employing over 150 in two or more countries have to consult with staff through European works councils. The proposals would foist the requirement to consult on all but the smallest companies.