Editor's message: Establishing good relations with trade unions and employee representatives can reap numerous benefits for your organisation. A good relationship will help when it comes to consulting in connection with key business changes, such as large-scale redundancies and TUPE transfers. Having an effective and productive relationship with your representatives can help consultations to run smoothly and avoid the risk of multiple employment tribunal claims.
Beyond any legal requirement to consult, establishing a culture where collective employee relations is fundamental to the way in which your organisation engages with its workforce can help to engender trust and transparency. Where there is the potential for conflict, good employee relations can provide a mechanism for resolution and open channels of communication. Conversely, where collective employee relations have broken down, organisations are exposed to the risk of industrial action, business disruption and a loss of productivity.
Laura Merrylees, senior employment law editor
Running a collective consultation process can be challenging, even in "normal" circumstances. However, with staff working remotely, or on furlough, due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is a process that has become even more complex. Nick Chronias, partner at DAC Beachcroft, sets out the legal and practical concerns for HR to consider when running a collective consultation process with a remote workforce.
Changing the defined contribution (DC) pension scheme might be something organisations are considering in the context of furlough or simply in the course of your ordinary business. Done well, change exercises can be a great opportunity to educate and engage employees about pension benefits. Helen Rowan identifies eight practical steps that HR teams should consider to make the pension change a success.
Enhanced to include information on coronavirus and the special circumstances defence.
With many employers potentially having to make redundancies as a result of the coronavirus crisis, consultant editor Darren Newman considers the likelihood of the "special circumstances" defence applying if they fail to comply with their collective consultation obligations.
Although the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme currently offers a short-term alternative to redundancies, when it comes to an end there is no doubt that many organisations will have no alternative but to make some of their workforce redundant. This raises the question for HR of how the redundancy consultation obligations run alongside this period of furlough. Consultant editor Darren Newman examines the issues.
Updated on 21 April 2020 to include a note from the ONS in response to the coronavirus pandemic and changes to the labour disputes section of the monthly labour market report.
Updated to include a reference to the Pensions Regulator's approach to regulatory action for failure to consult about decreased pension contributions for staff furloughed under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
Updated with the change to the threshold for valid employee requests for information and consultation rights, with effect from 6 April 2020.
Updated to reflect the increase in the fixed award for unlawful inducement, effective from 6 April 2020.
Updated to reflect the change to the threshold for valid employee requests for information and consultation rights, effective from 6 April 2020.
HR and legal information and guidance relating to collective employee relations.