Recognition hindered by hurried legislation

We are just a week into Union Recognition and the cracks are already beginning to appear. Last\ week we attacked the Government on your behalf for failing to issue clear and easy-to-follow guidance on implementing Union Recognition.

This brought into sharp focus the current poor state of the legislative process when it comes to changes in employment legislation.

This week we find there is a fundamental problem with the system. Our front-page story highlights the inherent contradiction in the Central Arbitration Committee acting as both mediator and judge in deciding whether a claim should be accepted.

We find again that the botched and hurried implementation of the law means it is directly contradicting the Government’s aim of fostering partnership in the workplace.

Sir Michael Burton, chairman of the CAC, admitted last week that it may have to ask employers not to put all the facts into the open because this would prejudice their position in the event that the committee has to make a ruling on whether a claim should be accepted.

HR professionals are clearly going to be playing their cards close to their chest when they enter a formal process and this is not conducive to coming to an amicable settlement.

As Michael Gooddie, HR director at GNER, points out, the success of mediation depends on taking an honest and open approach.

None of this is the CAC’s fault. It is simply being asked to implement a system which is far from perfect. But it is in an awkward position. As is every employer which has to contest a recognition claim.

It is clear that if the Government had followed the principles of open consultation and given HR practitioners time and guidance on how the system was going to work, this problem could have been dealt with. A clear, timely and open approach to consultation is all that the joint Personnel Today and Employers’ Forum on Statute and Practice campaign is calling for. It is not radical, it is not political, it is just good Government. Ultimately, in the case of Union Recognition, it could have genuinely helped ministers achieve their aim of closer partnership.

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