UK unions streamline guidance for smaller businesses

UK unions BPIF and Unite streamlined their guidance after the change in April. It extends the need for Icon – information and consultation – forums to companies with as few as 50 staff.

“We have agreed to be flexible in our approach to smaller companies,” Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said.

“We hope this appeals to companies implementing the regulations for the first time and allows us to establish simple but effective forums for our members to contribute.”

The existing model agreement has worked well, with more than 40 larger companies signing agreements with Unite, he said.

But both camps “recognise the wording can be simplified in the case of companies employing 50 to 99 employees” because smaller firms had “less complex structures”.

Andrew Brown, BPIF corporate affairs director, said: “Decision-making is improved where employees are informed and consulted on proposals that affect them.

“We welcome changes that remove obstacles and constraints that may stand in the way of establishing meaningful and constructive dialogue.”

The BPIF-Unite national partnership agreement and code of practice was first agreed three years ago and included a model agreement for setting up consultation forums.

It applied to firms with 150 staff or more. This was later dropped to those employing 100 or more, before the latest change to include companies employing 50 or more.

Existing clauses on the composition of forums, selection of employee representatives, deputies and officers have all been replaced with simpler alternatives.

The recommendation for forum composition, for example, is for two or three management representatives and between two and three employee representatives.

According to the BPIF, the new regime extends the rules to 440 print businesses from 170, in an industry of 11,000 such companies.

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