Informing and consulting employees means employers are listening to your views on important matters and taking your opinions into account when making decisions.
On this page:
Information and consultation: an introduction
Information and consultation is the process of keeping employees informed about workplace issues. Consultation happens when employers listen to your views on matters that affect your work and take them into account when making decisions.
In the context of collective redundancies and (where applicable) TUPE, employers must consult with a view to reaching an agreement.
It is good practice for your employer to let you know what’s going on at work and inform you of any changes. This helps create effective, ongoing communication with you and other workers.
Employee involvement also helps to build a positive working environment and improve trust.
Information and consultation on particular issues
If there is a planned collective redundancy your employer must inform and consult the trade union representing employees.
If the entity, or part of the entity, for which you work is due to transfer to another owner, called a transfer of an undertaking or TUPE, your employer must provide the recognised trade union with specific information which must be provided in enough time to allow voluntary consultation to take place.
The employer must also consult about any measures that it intends to take in respect of any affected employee.
A collective redundancy is when 20 or more employees are to be made redundant at the same establishment within a 90-day period.
Employers may also be at risk of successful unfair dismissal claims if they do not inform and consult individual employees who are to be dismissed. This applies even where there is not a collective redundancy situation.
Your right to be consulted and informed
Employees working in an organisation with 50 or more employees have the right to be informed and consulted about workplace issues.
Information and consultation arrangements could be set up in your workplace to cover:
- business performance;
- expected levels of employment in future;
- changes in business direction.
If you don’t already have an information and consultation arrangement with your employer then you should ask for one.
How should employers inform and consult you?
The type of communication an employer chooses should be appropriate for workers. For example if you do not have easy access to a computer, face-to-face communication or a letter is better.
Informing and consulting can take place using:
- group meetings with managers;
- team briefings;
You should still be included in the information and consultation process even if you are on a flexible working pattern or some kind of leave.
Larger organisations sometimes have a joint consultative committee (or a staff council). Your employer could also consult with an employee representative, such as a union representative, an information and cosultation representative or a person specially appointed for the purpose.
Starting the information and consultation process
For the process to begin, there needs to be at least 50 employees in the organisation and 10% of the employees must make the request either individually or as a group. If 10% of the employees would amount to fewer than 15 employees, then the request must be made by at least 15 employees. If 10% would be more than 2,500 employees, then a request made by 2,500 employees is enough.
To formally start the information and consultation process, employees should make a request to their employer to put arrangements in place. Alternatively, your employer may initiate negotiations.
Employees must make a request for information and consultation arrangements according to Information and Consultation of Employees (ICE) Regulations) [pdf document].
You must make a request to your employer in writing, to be sent to the registered or head office or principal place of business of your employer and include the names of the employees requesting the arrangements and give the date on which it was sent. It is a good idea to sign it.
If you want to remain anonymous you can send your request to the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC).
Your employer must acknowledge the request and tell all employees what arrangements will be put in place to negotiate an agreement on information and consultation. You and your coworkers then elect or appoint negotiating representatives.
During a collective redundancy or transfer of undertakings (TUPE) situation, under the standard information and consultation provisions, employers must:
- provide the employee representatives with information on decisions likely to lead to substantial changes in work organisation or in contractual relations referred to in Section 188 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Consolidation Act (article 216 of the Employment Rights (NI) Order 1996 in Northern Ireland) (collective redundancies) and TUPE;
- provide the information in such time and in such fashion and with such content as appropriate to enable the representatives to conduct and adequate study and prepare for consultation;
- consult with the employee representatives in respect of these matters.
The above requirements do not apply under the standard information and consultation provisions, once the employer is under a duty to comply with the information and consultation provisions contained in Section 188 TULRCA (article 216 of the Employment Rights (NI) Order 1996 in Northern Ireland) (collective redundancies) or with the information and consultation provisions contained in TUPE and the employer has notified the information and consultation representatives in writing that it will be complying with the collective consultation legislation / TUPE instead of the ICE Regulations.
Notification must be given on each occasion that the employer becomes subject to that duty.
Next steps for UNISON representatives
Be prepared to consult with the employer, either in an informal way or with regular meetings. This will often depend on the size of your organisation or company.
If you need to put information and consultation arrangements in place with your employer, you may need to ask the employer to get this started.
Information and consultation
My employer is about to make a collective redundancy. Can I have time off for information and consultation meetings?
Trade union reps and elected employee reps have the right to reasonable paid time off for receiving information and attending consultation meetings when there is a collective redundancy situation taking place. If your employer is selling the business, your business reps also have the right to reasonable paid time off for receiving information and attending consultation meetings under TUPE. The standard information and consultation provisions also provide for time off to conduct an appropriate study and prepare for consultation.
On which occasions might a specific information and consultation process be appropriate?
If there is a planned collective redundancy or the business is transferring to a new owner (transfer of an undertaking) that would be an ideal opportunity for your employer to inform and consult trade union representatives and other employees. In any event, where the employer is proposing to dismiss as redundant more than 20 employees at one establishment within a 90-day period the employer must consult with the recognised union under Section 188 TULRCA (article 216 of the Employment Rights (NI) Order 1996 in Northern Ireland). Information must also be provided under the TUPE rules and consultation must take place about any measures that an employer intends to take in respect of an affected employee.
What’s the point of the information and consultation process?
Generally, the process of information and consultation allows your employer to keep you informed of news and events happening which may affect your job. It is also the chance to air your views about any changes so that your employer takes into account your views when making plans.
My employer has refused to provide the data on numbers of employees affected by a TUPE transfer before we start a consultation process. What can I do?
Speak to your branch or regional organiser.