Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

It's Good to Talk Business,business Told

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

It's Good to Talk Business,business Told

Article excerpt

Byline: WENDY LEDGER

AEUROPEAN Directive that will compel companies with more than 50 employees to consult workers about changes affecting their jobs is currently in the red tape pipeline.

This directive is just one strand in the massive push to harmonise employment law throughout the EU. So far Britain has adopted a range of employment and social policies, which form part of the social policy agenda of the EU, but the British Government has raised objections to this particular directive, believing it will interfere with existing legislation.

Most European commentators, however, believe that qualified majority voting will ensure the passage of this law, as Britain and Ireland are now the only remaining EU members objecting to its implementation.

How this law is likely to affect employers was demonstrated recently in France, when a court forced Marks and Spencer to suspend its closure of stores on the Continent because of its failure to consult.

The proposed Information and Consultation Directive gives employees the right to regular information and consultation over economic or strategic developments being undertaken by their employers. It is hoped the proposal will consolidate social dialogue and trust between employer and employee.

Fundamentally the directive is about ensuring employers tell their workforce when they have plans to make important and relevant changes and will introduce penalties for employers who are not complying.

The assumption that the directive is the sort of employment regulation only likely to affect blue-collar workers or those working in the retail or manufacturing sector is not entirely accurate. If the directive becomes law, all businesses operating within the EU will be forced to comply.

Acquisitions and mergers are common occurrences within the financial institutions of the Square Mile. Traditionally these manoeuvres have been conducted with an air of secrecy, with employees being the last to know. …

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