Employment - Employees (Provision of Information and Consultation) Bill 2005, Bill No. 26 of 2005 

August, 2005 -

This Bill (as initiated), which will transpose the EU Information and Consultation Directive, has just been published. It does not give workers an automatic right to information and consultation. Instead negotiations to set up an information and consultation structure will have to be “triggered” by workers themselves in the form of a written request from 10% of the workforce, subject to a minimum of 15 employees and a maximum of a 100. This “opt-in” requirement means that an employer will only have to set up an information and consultation structure if formally asked to do so by a group of employees. Where employees do decide to trigger consultation rights, organisations will have six months in which to negotiate an agreement (subject to extension by agreement between the parties). If the parties fail to introduce a negotiated agreement within the agreed period then there are certain standard fall back rules which come into force. The standard rules will also come into effect in circumstances where an employer refuses to enter negotiations within three months of receiving a request from or on behalf of the employees. Whilst the Bill permits employers to continue to engage in “direct involvement” with employees there is also provision for negotiations to be conducted by elected employee representatives. In circumstances where employers have a practice of collective bargaining with trade unions, there is a provision whereby such a trade union (once it represents 10% of the employees) will be entitled to elect one or more employee representatives from among its members. Any disputes relating to information and consultation rights will be dealt with by the Labour Court. The Circuit Court will have powers to reinforce determinations of the Labour Court and there will be a right of appeal to the High Court on a point of law. A number of firms have agreed information and consultation arrangements ahead of the legislation. These include Tesco Ireland, Hewlett Packard, Allianz and Heineken. The advantage of doing this is the parties do not have to comply with the detail of the Directive/transposing legislation so long as the agreement respects the principles of the legislation - more wriggle room in other words.


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