If an organisation has 50 or more employees, they have a legal right to request that their employer makes arrangements to inform and consult them about issues at work.

The Information and Consultation of Employees (ICE) regulations, mean employees can request a formal agreement if there isn’t one already.

The request must be made by at least 15 employees or 10% of the workforce - whichever number is smaller.

Even if employers don’t have an agreement in place, they still have to consult if they’re planning:

  • 20 or more redundancies in any 90-day period at any single establishment
  • to sell their business or buy a new one
  • certain changes to an occupational or personal pension scheme

Negotiating an agreement

Negotiations must start no later than 3 months after a valid request has been made. They can last for up to 6 months, and can only be extended if both the employer and employee representatives agree.

It’s up to the employer and employee representatives to decide what issues will be covered by the agreement. However, it must cover all the employees in the organisation, including new and future employees.

Even if there’s no agreement, the employer must still:

  • inform employees about the business’ economic situation
  • inform and consult about employment prospects
  • inform and consult about substantial changes in work organisation or contracts

Pre-existing agreements

If there’s already an agreement in place but 40% or more of the workforce requests a new one, employers must negotiate a new agreement. If more than 10% but less than 40% make the request, employers can hold a ballot for a new agreement.

There’s more information about the regulations on the Acas website and in the guidance leaflet below.

European Works Councils (EWCs)

These are forums for consulting and informing employees about international issues affecting their employer. They apply to businesses that are part of a multinational organisation which operates in at least 2 countries in the European Economic Area (EEA).

The EEA includes:

Employees can request an EWC if the organisation has both:

  • 1,000 or more employees in total
  • at least 150 employees in each of 2 or more EEA states

There are rules about how the requests have to be made, how EWCs should operate and be set up and what EWC agreements should cover in the guidance leaflet below.

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