The final text of the Information and Consultation Directive was published in the Official Journal of the European Communities on 23rd March 2002.
The Directive gives employees a right to be:
• informed about the business's economic situation,
• informed and consulted about employment prospects (particularly where there is a threat to employment); and,
• informed and consulted about about decisions likely to lead to substantial changes in work organisation or contractual relations (including redundancies and transfers).
Information and consultation has to take place at an appropriate time,. and with the relevant level of management. It is expected it will take place via a union or appropriate employee representatives (although this is yet to be determined by the UK legislation). The representatives will be entitled to meet the employer, submit their views and receive a reasoned response.
Employers may withhold information when disclosure would seriously harm the company or be prejudicial to it, or they may require that it be kept confidential by the employee representatives to whom it is disclosed.
The U.K. has three years to implement the Directive, i.e. until 23rd March 2005, by when it must apply to all businesses with over 150 employees. By March 2007 it must be extended to all businesses with over 100 employees, and by March 2008 it must apply to all businesses with 50 or more employees. The Directive does not apply to businesses with less than 50 employees. Businesses with 50+ employees account for about 75% of UK employees