DTI minister Alan Johnson has
called on the HR profession, business managers and employee representatives to
work together to implement the new EU directive on information and consultation.
Johnson, addressing the CIPD employment law and practice
conference in London today, said he wanted to see a social partnership formed
between these groups so that information and consultation becomes part of the
work culture in this country.
The directive, which becomes law for companies with more
than 150 employees in three years time, will force employers to consult with
their workforce over plans for major changes to the business.
Johnson, the DTI employment relations minister, said, “On
June 11 we negotiated changes to the directive that made us happy to join the
consensus on it.
“It is up to employers and employees to develop information
and consultation channels that suit them.
“British business managers, the personnel profession and the
workforce should sit down together and see what the best way forward to
implement this is.
“We have probably the worst record on information and
consultation of any country in Europe and it is important that this time it
works. We can genuinely use this to change the culture in this country.”
Johnson also stressed the growing importance of human
capital and called for people management issues to be given greater priority in
“We need to see managers at all levels putting people first
and get people issues into the boardroom. It is critical today that the HR
function is considered at the heart of an organisation’s business plan,” he
Johnson told the conference that the government task force
set up to introduce a legal right for parents to ask for flexible working arrangements
would produce light-touch legislation that took into consideration the
requirements of business and would draw heavily on existing best practice.
By Ben Willmott