Under the ICE Regulations your employees have the right to request that you create an information and consultation (I&C) agreement. If you already have an I&C agreement in place, you may not need to negotiate a new one. A pre-existing agreement (PEA) may cover more than one undertaking or may have different provisions for different parts of your workforce, or be made up of several different agreements.
To be valid, a PEA must:
- be in writing
- cover all the employees in the undertaking
- set out how the employer will inform and consult the employees or their representatives
- be approved by the employees
If you have a PEA but 40 per cent or more of your workforce has put in a valid request, you must negotiate a new agreement. However, if the number of employees making the request is 10 per cent or more of the workforce but less than 40 per cent, you can ballot the workforce to decide whether it endorses the request for a new agreement.
If you intend to hold a ballot you must inform your employees of this in writing. You must then wait 21 days before you hold the ballot to allow your employees to challenge the validity of the PEA.
If a ballot is held and 40 per cent of the workforce, and a majority of those who vote, endorse the employee request, you must negotiate a new agreement. Where less than 40 per cent of the workforce, or a minority of those voting, endorses the employee request, you do not have to negotiate a new agreement.
If your employees do not support the request for a new agreement then they cannot put in another request for three years.
If you do not make the necessary arrangements to negotiate an I&C agreement, or negotiations fail, an agreement will be set up according to the standard 'fall-back' provisions. These are set out in the regulations and result in a more rigid and standardised agreement.
You have up to six months after negotiations have failed to arrange the election of I&C representatives. Under the fall-back provisions, you must arrange for the election of one representative per 50 employees or part thereof, with a minimum of two representatives and a maximum of 25.
Under the fall-back provisions you must inform and consult the representatives on issues as follows:
- inform on: recent and probable development of the organisation's activities and economic situation
- inform and consult on: the situation, structure and probable development of employment within the organisation and, in particular, on any anticipatory measures envisaged where there is a threat to employment
- inform and consult with a view to reaching agreement on: decisions likely to lead to substantial changes in work organisation or in contractual relations