Employers’ concerns that new consultation laws will disrupt business are unfounded, says The Work Foundation.
In its report New Dialogue at Work - Making Consultation Law Work, The Work Foundation refutes employers’ claims that proposed EU legislation requiring employers to consult with staff over major business decisions will lead to sensitive corporate information being leaked and slow down decision-making.
“This study suggests new information and consultation rights will be much less disruptive to business than critics forecast,” says Patrick Burns, director of advocacy at the Work Foundation and co-author of the report. “Many companies already do what the likely legislation will require.”
Employers' organisations oppose the legislation, which will require any companies with 50 employees or more to consult staff about important decisions. They are concerned that staff will leak commercially sensitive information, so jeopardising share prices, competitive position or mergers and acquisitions. Employers also complain that workplace representatives might start demanding negotiation rights on business strategy.
The Work Foundation says interviews with personnel professionals show that managers are as likely as employee reps to leak corporate secrets. It says clear guidelines are needed to ensure employees know how to deal with classified information.
The DTI is drawing up the draft legislation and is expected to begin consultation on it next month. Burns says it should draw up guidelines to make the legislation work. “The DTI now needs to do a lot of practical piloting to help and guide employers and workforce reps for whom consultation will be a new experience,” he says.