The Employee Consultation Rights Bill has been published. It has little prospect of being enacted due to the imminent general election (unless re-adopted in the next session of parliament).
It provides an obligation for all employers with more than 50 employees to inform and consult workers (and their representatives) on "large business issues", including:
• developments relating to employment within the undertaking, including foreseeable redundancies; and,
• proposed decisions of the employer which are likely to cause significant changes to the organisation of work or to contracts of employment.
The obligation to inform extends to providing "information on all relevant facts".
An obligation of confidence is imposed on the workforce representatives, who are prohibited from disclosing information to others. The Bill provides that breach of the confidentiality requirement is "actionable at law". If the employer says information is confidential (and thus cannot be disclosed by the workforce representatives), the representatives can apply to the CAC for a declaration as to whether the information is truly confidential.
The penalty for failing to inform and consult, or for providing inadequate or inaccurate information, is that each affected employee shall be paid a 'protective award' of four weeks' gross pay on application to an employment tribunal.
The Bill can be found at http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/cm200001/cmbills/027/2001027.htm