You have a legal responsibility to consult your workforce on health and safety matters. It's important to motivate them and make them aware of health and safety issues. Consultations with employees can help businesses become more efficient in reducing the number of accidents and work-related illnesses.
This article summarises the law that applies to employers and their onshore workforce in the UK.
Consultation must be about your employees' health and safety at work, including:
You must give employees or their safety representatives the relevant information, and they must have them enough time to consider or express their views. You must take time to listen and consider their views before you make any decision.
If that trade union has chosen, or is about to choose, safety representatives, then you must consult those safety representatives on matters affecting the employees they represent. This can include employees who aren't members of the trade union.
What law applies?
You must still consult any employees who aren't in groups covered by trade union safety representatives.
You can consult them directly or through elected representatives. If you decide to consult your employees through an elected representative, then employees have to elect one or more employees to represent them.
What law applies?
The trade union concerned will offer trade union safety representatives training.
By law, you can't dismiss or punish employees because they've taken part in health and safety consultations (whether as an individual or a representative). This includes if they become a candidate for health and safety representatives or take part in voting.
You must give employees or their representatives enough information so that they can take part fully and effectively in the consultation. If you choose to, you can consult both the employees and their representatives about a particular issue.
You don't have to give information that you're not aware of, or if:
If you disagree with employees or their representatives about the consultation arrangements, you should first try to agree through the normal procedures in the organisation.
The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) can become involved if necessary. In Northern Ireland, this will be the Labour Relations Agency (LRA).
Any employee can apply to an Employment Tribunal (ET) (or Industrial Tribunal in Northern Ireland) if they feel they've been punished for taking part in consultations. Representatives who don't get the time off, pay or training can also apply to an ET.