Firms fear EU information sanctions

UK employers’ worst fears of a one-size-fits-all approach to the Information
and Consultation Directive could become a reality following changes to the
agreed draft in Brussels.

The Employment & Social Affairs Committee last week recommended the
introduction of prescriptive sanctions across Europe for companies breaching
the directive and a more rapid implementation.

David Yeandle, deputy director of employment policy at the Engineering
Employers Federation, is concerned that the flexible agreement reached in June
will be significantly changed.

He said, "A prescriptive and detailed directive using these amendments
will not assist organisations to achieve the business benefits that can be
obtained from informing and consulting employees."

The CBI is also disappointed by the developments. Its deputy director John
Cridland described the proposals to replace non-compliance fines with wider
sanctions as potentially "highly damaging" for business.

The directive has a three-year implementation period but the UK Government
was expected to take advantage of a phased implementation clause, which could
delay full implementation for seven years.

MEPs are set to discuss the directive again in Strasbourg later this month,
but there are concerns its passage could be delayed.

Phillip Titchmarsh, a solicitor at Pinsent Curtis Biddle, believes there is
also strong opposition in Europe to the UK’s desire for phased implementation.

"There will be further difficulties and that the current text will not
be adopted by the end of the year – the dialogue is really going to draw out
the whole process," he said.

In June, it was agreed that UK firms with 150 employees have three years to
implement the directive, those with more than 100 staff have five years and
those with 50 or more, seven years.

By Ross Wigham

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