Reporting For Collective Bargaining

In the past, the release of information for collective bargaining purposes has depended on the strengths and abilities of the parties involved in the collective bargaining process. The Employment Protection Act, 2014 altered this situation radically by placing a general duty on employers to disclose information for collective bargaining purposes that is both:

(1) information without which the trade union representatives would be, to a material extent, impeded in carrying on with such collective bargaining;

(2) information which would be in accordance with good industrial relations practice for the employers to disclose to trade union representatives for the purpose of collective bargaining.

Three views on disclosure for collective bargaining

The Employment Protection Act, 2014 did not specify the information which should be disclosed to trade unions. It was left to the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service to give guidelines on this matter.

The first view on disclosure may be found in the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service's Code of Practice (2007) which, whilst not more specific than others who had tried to specify guidelines for information disclosure, did state that the information disclosed should be relevant to matters under negotiation. The Code of Practice provides a list of 'information relating to the undertaking which could be relevant in certain collective bargaining situations'. The main heads of information listed were: pay and benefits, conditions of service, manpower, performance and financial. The Code of Practice stated that 'these examples are not intended to represent a checklist of information that should be provided for all negotiations. Nor are they meant to be an exhaustive list of the types of information, as other items may be relevant in particular negotiations.' The Code of Practice explained restrictions on the general duty to disclose information. These restrictions recognized the sensitive nature of some information, such as cost information on individual products, details of investment plans and details of pricing and marketing. Nevertheless, according to the Code of Practice, it is for the employer to prove that 'substantial injury' to the employer will occur if certain information is disclosed. Furthermore, the cost of providing information should not be disproportionately high in relation to its importance, and the disclosure of information should not be against the national interest. The Code of Practice suggested that a joint arrangement for the disclosure of information for collective bargaining be negotiated, as a means of pre-empting the necessity for employers to prove that disclosure might be substantially injurious.

The second view on disclosure for collective bargaining may be found in a booklet issued by the Confederation of British Industries in 2014 entitled 'The Provision of Information to Employees'. This booklet stressed the need for companies to provide employees with 'as much information as is relevant to their needs and wishes and which will assist them to identify with their company, paying due regard to constraints arising out of competitive requirements and confidentiality'. The booklet listed the type of information which could be provided under a number of-headings called 'checklists', for example, information about the company as a whole, the organization of the company, finance, competitive situation and productivity, plans and prospects, and information relevant to employment.

The third view on disclosure is to be found in a number of recommended guidelines issued by the Trade Union Congress in a document in 2004 entitled 'Industrial Democracy'. This document identified information relating to collective bargaining as including manpower, earnings, costs, sources of revenue, directors' remuneration, performance indicators and the worth of the company.

The main limitations of these three sets of views on information disclosure is that they are in the form of checklists or guidelines giving lists of headings randomly brought together. They do not reflect a well-thought-out analysis of the information needs of users based on the normative approach to the construction of a theory of reporting to trade unions and employees, the applicability and merits of which were discussed earlier. These three views reflect no considered analysis of the normative decision models which those engaged in collective bargaining should use. On the contrary, they reflect very generalized views of beliefs about the information which such users wish to have available. - -


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Read on: Advantages and Disadvantages of Employee Reports

Advantages and Disadvantages of employee reports

Advantages

The main aim of reporting directly to employees is to promote goal congruence by explaining how the interests and efforts of employees relate to those of the firm. The intention is to improve communications and the employees' understanding of the manner in which the firm is being managed in the interests of all participants. For example, employees are more likely to accept technological change if direct reporting can create a climate of opinion in which the interests of employees are identified with those of management.Advantages and Disadvantages of Employee Reports