employers staffing issues
Consultation with Employees
Depending on whether or not there are recognised trade unions in the workplace,consultation can be through union safety representatives, through elected 'representatives of employee safety', or with the employee directly. Details of these various arrangements are given below. All representatives must be provided with paid time off to carry out their duties and to undertake appropriate training. They must also be given adequate facilities on site.
The Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977 allow recognised trade unions to appoint employee safety representatives, who then have rights to:
- be consulted about health and safety issues;
- inspect the premises;
- investigate reportable accidents, occupational diseases and dangerous occurrences;
- attend safety committee meetings;
- request a safety committee be formed;
- contact enforcing authority inspectors.
Where employees are not represented by safety representatives under the 1977 Regulations, the Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996 apply. Under these Regulations, employers have a duty to consult employees in good time on a range of matters affecting their health and safety at work, including in particular:
- the introduction of any measure at the workplace which may substantially affect the health and safety of those employees;
- any health and safety information the employer is required to provide to the employees;
- the planning and organisation of any health and safety training the employer is required to provide;
- the health and safety consequences for those employees of the introduction (including planning thereof) of new technologies into the workplace.
Such consultation can be with the employees directly or through elected 'representatives of employee safety'.
When employers consult directly with employees, employers must provided employees with sufficient information to enable the employees to participate fully in discussions. The information provided must take into consideration the employees' level of knowledge. The leaflet 'Consulting employees on health and safety: A guide to the law' explains how, by law, employers must consult with employees on health and safety matters and references further guidance.