French ruling clarifies

Restructuring and redundancies are going to be very much on the minds of HR
people over the next few weeks as world markets go into free fall following the
attack on the World Trade Center. In this climate it is important that
employers are able to consult with staff about lay-offs in a way that does not
jeopardise the company’s competitive position even further.

In view of this, a French court’s decision last week in a case taken by
trade unions against Marks & Spencer will be welcomed by employers facing
redundancies in Europe. The court ruled the company’s works council was legally
valid as a forum to consult on closure of stores in France. This decision will
give confidence to all employers with works councils, provided the councils
meet the requirements of the Works Council Directive.

The story is not yet over for M&S however. The retailer faces another
case which will decide on the technicality of whether the way it communicated
store closures amounted to an announcement or a proposal. So firms will still
have to take care to follow the correct procedures when consulting with staff
about restructuring.

It’s so good to talk when you are at work

Does it really make much difference what your office environment is like?
Step into the average media, advertising or high-tech company these days and
you’re likely to find yourself in a funky, open-plan space more like a coffee
bar than a traditional office.

And the similarity doesn’t end there. Some organisations are deliberately
encouraging employees to break off from work to chat with colleagues.

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