Open letter to Stephen Byers

Dear Mr Byers

We are writing to
raise concerns among members of the human resources profession about the review
of the laws on employee consultation on redundancies, which you announced in
the House of Commons in mid January. The review is intended to establish if the
laws requiring consultation "in good time" are working and whether
more should be done to promote effective consultation with employees.

Readers of Personnel Today, the
leading business news magazine for the HR profession, are concerned that the
review could amount to a PR exercise for the Government, designed to counter
criticisms that ministers have not done enough to prevent large-scale
redundancies.

HR professionals are concerned
about two principle issues: the vagueness of the proposed review, and your
failure to open up the discussions to the HR profession. On the first issue, we
know the review is going to take four months, but there are no terms of
reference and no clear objectives.

What has particularly angered the
profession, however, is the decision to consult only with the CBI and the TUC.
HR directors at companies such as Vauxhall are directly responsible for
developing effective consultation with staff, and have the experience to
understand the challenges in implementing good staff consultation. A failure to
take their experience into account in the review will lead to unworkable
regulations that will adversely affect business performance and employee
relations.

It is surprising, therefore,
that your review will not seek the opinion of the CIPD, which represents the
profession. For its part, Personnel Today will forward the views of HR
professionals directly to your department if you decide to widen the
consultation to include HR practitioners.

Personnel Today
believes the DTI review of staff consultation should:

– Have a specific time frame
and objectives

– Take into account the global
economic conditions before recommending any changes to rules on employee
consultation

– Set out principles that
employers should abide by when announcing redundancies, but ensure these are
flexible enough to suit the different situations in industry sectors

– Make clear how the EU
directive on information and consultation at a national level (the national
works council legislation) will affect company decision making

The review should
take into account:

– The views of employers’
bodies such as the CIPD and the Employers’ Forum on Statute and Practice

– The views of individual HR
professionals

– The views of employers who
have recently announced redundancies

Our readers wait
with great interest to hear your response to this open letter.

Yours sincerely

Personnel Today

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