Consultation plans will tie up staff and hit performance, CBI warns

European Commission proposals to extend employers’ obligations to consult staff will make it harder for human resources managers to improve performance through effective people management, the CBI has warned. The draft directive on information and consultation would force companies with more than 50 staff to consult on a range of business decisions. At present, only […]

European Commission proposals to extend employers’ obligations to consult staff will make it harder for human resources managers to improve performance through effective people management, the CBI has warned.

The draft directive on information and consultation would force companies with more than 50 staff to consult on a range of business decisions. At present, only firms with more than 1,000 staff and employing over 150 in two or more countries are required to consult, through European works councils.

The directive will not be implemented for at least 18 months. The CBI voiced its concerns as France began its six-month presidency of the European Union, which the CBI fears will be used to promote an ambitious social agenda.

Dominic Johnson, CBI head of employee relations, warned the directive would tie up HR staff with bureaucracy.

He said: `HR would be in the frontline making sure consultation had taken place. It would be just another compliance role rather than getting on with delivering better business performance through effective people management.

`The fact that you would have to consult staff before a decision is taken suggests that you would have to undertake continual formal consultation, which would inevitably tie business up in a great deal of bureaucracy.’

Bruce Warman, Vauxhall Motors director of personnel, said the proposals were `totally inappropriate’. He said: `It will interfere with what companies are trying to do strategically. It will be a distraction.’

Diane Sinclair, speaking on behalf of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said the institute supported opposition to the directive. She said: `We don’t believe that legislation is likely to encourage a better relationship with staff or improve business performance.’

But TUC general secretary John Monks criticised the CBI’s stance. He said: `Only the most short-sighted manager will see consulting their employees as a burden. CBI opposition to such a sensible and modest measure smacks of a 1980s timewarp.’

Helen Rowe writes for Personnel Today

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