Consulting your employees
Consultation involves managers and business owners seeking and taking into account the views of employees before making a decision. You are required by law to consult with employees, their representatives or recognised trade unions on:
- health and safety issues
- changes to the contract of employment
- undertakings or transfers, ie the business is to be sold or part of it is to be contracted out, or the contractor is to be replaced by another
- changes to pension schemes
- training policies, progress and plans - if the Industrial Court has imposed a bargaining method in the statutory trade union recognition process - see recognising and derecognising a trade union
You must use the appropriate consultation method depending on the circumstances, eg through individual employee consultation, employee representatives, joint consultative committees/works councils, joint working parties or trade unions/collective bargaining units.
If your business or organisation employs more than 50 employees, your employees can require that you negotiate arrangements to inform or consult them on issues that may affect them and the business. See legal requirements for informing and consulting employees.
Your business may benefit from consulting employees on a regular basis and making staff aware of ways they can contribute ideas and raise concerns. You do not need to have complex structures for consultation - often ad hoc groups can work better. See legal requirements for consulting and informing employees.
For effective consultation, you should consider:
- seeking and considering the views of affected employees
- explaining final decisions - particularly when employees' views are rejected
- giving credit and recognition to those who provide information which improves a decision
- ensuring that the issues for consultation are relevant to the group of employees discussing them
- making the outcome of the meeting or decisions available to everyone
Effective consultation can help avoid minor issues and petty grievances. It is also good for employee morale and their role commitment and dedication to the business aims.