Q What constitutes a valid employee request to negotiate an information and consultation agreement?
A A valid employee request will take the form of either a single request made by at least 10 per cent of the employees in the undertaking, or a number of requests that, when taken together, mean that at least 10 per cent of the employees in the undertaking have made requests. In the latter case, requests may be made on different days so long as they are all made within a period of six months.
Employers are advised to retain any employee requests that do not fulfil the 10 per cent requirement for a period of six months in case any more are received. Where multiple requests are received employers may wish to check that the same employee does not appear on more than one request, to avoid double counting.
Where the 10 per cent requirement would result in fewer than 15 or more than 2,500 employees being necessary for a valid request, a minimum of 15 or a maximum of 2,500 employees is necessary.
To be valid, a request must be in writing, specify the names of the employees making it and the date on which it was sent. It may be sent directly to the employer, or to the Central Arbitration Committee.
Q In what circumstances can an employer hold a ballot seeking endorsement of an employee request?
A Where a valid employee request has been made by less than 40 per cent of employees and a pre-existing information and consultation agreement is in place, the employer may, instead of initiating negotiations, hold a ballot to determine whether the workforce endorses the request.
Before holding the ballot, the employer must inform the employees in writing, within one month of the date of the employee request, that it intends to do so. It must then wait 21 days before holding the ballot, to allow employees to challenge the validity of the pre-existing agreement should they so wish, but must arrange for the ballot to be held as soon as reasonably practicable once this 21-day period has expired.
Q What constitutes a pre-existing agreement?
A A pre-existing agreement must have been made prior to a valid employee request to negotiate an information and consultation agreement in respect of the Information and Consultation of Employees Regulations 2004, regulation 7. It must: be in writing; cover all the employees in the undertaking; have been approved by the employees;