Waiting for the Big One

first_imgIt has been hailed as perhaps the most important piece of employmentlegislation ever. So is HR quaking in its boots? By Phil BoucherTerry RobinsonHR director UK, EurotunnelWe don’t feel the information and consultation legislation will force us tomake big changes as we have always had a consultative framework in place. AsEurotunnel is Anglo-French, the internal consultation has basically mirroredthe situation in France, so we have had a works council in all but name sincethe company was created in 1994. Three years ago, Eurotunnel also created a European Works Council. This ismade up of eight representatives each from the UK and France. It meets twice ayear and basically supplements the UK company council which meets six times ayear. There are no limitations on the agenda within any of these, sorepresentatives are free to debate anything they wish between themselves. In the UK we already have the situation where a lot of our consultationoverlaps anyway. This is partly because of the 1999 Employment Relations Actand because we have formed a strong partnership with the T&G since 2000.The existing partnership mostly discusses pay and conditions, and there are nolimitations on what they can talk about. It meets six times a year to deal withcompany issues. Eurotunnel is also developing a plan to mix the T&G andworks council together so there is even wider consultation. The Act may bring a degree of rationalisation to this consultation, but itwill not change too much because the company is owned by shareholders and wealready have a fairly transparent approach to financial and company business.We are already far more open than the majority of UK firms as we are run in thesame way as a French company. The one worry that exists arises from the phrase “with a view toreaching an agreement”. This phrase could cause problems depending on howit is interpreted as we have always relied on traditional consultation. Likemost companies, we make a decision at board level, then pass the detailsthroughout the organisation to gain feedback. The board then decides whether itshould act on the feedback or not. If the phrase has teeth, it could well mean the company has to restructure –particularly as we might be obliged to leave important plans on hold whilepeople make their minds up. Other than this, I cannot see that the Act is goingto make radical changes to the way we consult or the degree of transparency wehave within the company. Jill CrowtherHead of HR practice, MicrosoftWe are waiting to see what furtheramendments will be made to the Act and are consulting with the CBI to preparefor it. We are worried that rigid formalisation of the communication processmay cause us to lose some of the engagement we have worked so hard to develop.Our global staff survey currently has a 93 per cent response rate, forinstance, and this may be adversely affected by any changes to the two-wayrelationship. In particular, we are concerned the legislation may force thecompany to take a step backwards. Our fear is that it may negatively affectcompanies that have been more progressive. Despite this, we think it isbrilliant for companies that haven’t placed such an emphasis on consultationbefore.Kate JopsonPrincipal consultant, KPMG people servicesWe have anticipated futuredevelopments by introducing an Employee Business Forum. We hope this will be amechanism for information and consultation and help promote employeeinvolvement in the business. It is composed of elected employee representativesand members of management, who attend regular meetings. To ensure everything isas transparent as possible, there are published agendas that employeescontribute to. The forum will be used for both formal and informal consultationand is designed to engage KPMG people in dialogue about relevant issues. Wehope it will focus attention on key issues for the firm, and create a way ofharnessing employees’ ideas and creativity, as well as promoting understandingof the business.Len AspellGroup head of employee relations, HSBCUntil the draft regulations arepublished, it is difficult to be precise about how they may apply to currentarrangements. We already have information and collective consultationprocedures in place for our management grades (a National Council Forum) andclerical staff grades (through a trade union) and do not know how these will beaffected. We also communicate directly with employees through various channels.It is important the regulations allow employers and employees the opportunityand flexibility to determine the most appropriate framework. We would beconcerned if the regulations dissuaded companies from direct communication withemployees and relied entirely on indirect communication through employeerepresentatives.Sue GriffinHead of employment relations, Ceridian CentrefileWe are in the process of changing ourpension scheme for people on defined benefits schemes and have electeddelegates to voice the opinions of those concerned. Ceridian also handles a lotof TUPE transfers and this involves a huge amount of consultation at both endsof the spectrum. We believe this will change slightly in the future becauseinstead of electing people for a specific purpose, we are likely to havepermanent elected representatives. Ideally, these people would hold theposition for between 2-3 years – it takes some time for them to get to gripswith everything that’s involved. But at the moment, nothing has been set out indefined terms as we are still waiting for the legislation to be finalised. Related posts:No related photos. 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