20/06/2011

Employment e-Brief – UK regulations on European Works Councils updated

Clients with multi-national operations in Europe will be aware of the potential requirement to set up a “European Works Council”, which has been on the UK statute books since 1999. The UK regulations, which were set out in the “Transnational Information And Consultation of Employees” regulations (“TICE” regulations), have recently been subject to some minor amendments in the ‘Transnational Information and Consultation of Employees (Amendment) Regulations 2010’ which became law on 5th June 2011.

The changes in the UK regulations (TICE 2010) are required to implement the revised 2009 European Works Council Directive set by the EU.

In summary there is no real change to the scope of the regulations: if you were technically required to have a European level information and consultation mechanism for employees before, then you still are. If you did not before, then nothing has changed there either. The main changes are intended to increase the usability of the regulations and to reflect more accurately the wording of the Directive.

The changes, for clients who do need to have a “European Works Council”, to be aware of are:

  • Application of the 2010 regulations. This is a technical drafting issue – the application of the new rules will be explained by amended regulations 44 and 45 of TICE 1999 (which deal with pre-existing agreements) and new regulation 45A into TICE 1999 (which will deal with agreements created or amended in the “two-year window” up to 5 June 2011).
  • Information and consultation obligations. The final regulations add a new regulation 18A and the relevant wording has been changed so that the defined information and consultation obligations mirror those in the Directive more closely.
  • Training for EWC and SNB members. To reflect the wording of the Directive, the final regulations provide that central management will be obliged to provide the means required for the representatives to undertake the necessary training. This is an important distinction from the draft regulations which obligated management to provide the training itself to representatives.
  • Linking consultation at EWC and national level. Following consultation, TICE 2010 will provide that, where there is no agreement on how national and EWC dialogue are linked, the two processes must start “within a reasonable time of each other”. The regulations will also make it explicit that the link between EWC and national consultation will only be required where the national body is already entitled to be informed and consulted on the issue in question.
  • Time limit for CAC claim. Under the final regulations the time limit for parties to submit a claim to CAC for a failure to comply with regulation 21 has been extended to six months.
  • Maximum penalty. The Government has decided that the level of the maximum penalty awarded by the EAT for breaches of the legislation will be raised from a fine of £75,000 to a maximum of £100,000.

For clients who may require more details, it is useful to refer to the Guidance document on the amended 2010 TICE regulations published by the Department for Business Innovation & Skills (BIS) and available here.

For more information about this, or any other employment matter, please contact a member of the employment team.