Manufacturers outline concerns over consultation law

Manufacturers have urged the
Government to adopt a brave approach when tackling important outstanding issues
surrounding the implementation of the forthcoming information and consultation
legislation

The call was made by EEF, the
manufacturers’ organisation, in its formal response to the Government’s latest
consultation on implementing UK legislation based on the EU directive on
‘Information and Consultation at National Level’.

In its response, EEF welcomed a
number of the general principles in the Government’s proposed approach,
including protecting existing information and consultation arrangements and
encouraging voluntary agreements. But EEF also expressed serious concerns about
some important issues that the legislation must take into account.

These include:

● enabling employers to
have information and consultation arrangements at either the ‘establishment’ or
‘undertaking’ level according to their organisational structure and employee
relations culture

● clarifying the
relationship between this new legislation and existing legislation about
consulting employees on issues such as collective redundancies and business
transfers

● providing greater
legislative clarity about the issues on which information and consultation will
have to take place

  making the criteria for establishing
"valid" voluntary information and consultation agreements less
restrictive

● reviewing the
membership of the Central Arbitration Committee so that it includes individuals
with practical experience of information and consultation arrangements in
non-unionised organisations.

EEF director of employment
policy Peter Martin said: "If the Government’s stated objective of
increasing the number of high-performance workplaces – which EEF fully supports
– is to be achieved, it must be brave and create a legislative framework that
minimises the uncertainty for employers about what this important legislation
means and avoids creating bureaucratic complexity.

"It must also avoid
passing all the risks of uncertainty from the Government onto hard-pressed
employers, by clarifying the relationship of this new legislation with existing
information and consultation legislation," he said.

By Quentin Reade

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