In case brought by the Amicus Trade Union Macmillan publishers ltd have been fined £55,000 by the Employment Appeals Tribunal(EAT)under the Information and Consultation of Employee Regulations 2004. The maximum possible fine is set at £75,000.
The Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) made a declaration to the effect that Macmillan publishers ltd had not arranged a ballot of its employees to elect the relevant number of information and consultation representatives. CAC ordered that this be done.
In a company of at least 150 employees If there is a valid request by at least 10% of the employees an employer is obliged to initiate a negotiating process to establish information and consultation arrangements.
If agreement is not reached standard information and consultations provisions apply which require the employer to inform and consult within a statutory regime.
Amicus originally requested on 15 March 2006 to negotiate an information and consultation agreement. This should have been in place by 15 September 2006 (regulation 18(1)(a)(i)). Amicus complained that this had not happened, and that the employer had failed to take any steps even to conduct the relevant ballot. The complaint was upheld by CAC. Amicus then requested that the Employment Appeal Tribunal issue a penalty notice. After an uncontested hearing at which Macmillans did was not represented this has now been issued.
Macmillan publishers ltd. did make a number or points in mitigation such as their having staff consultative committees and of already having a system or informing and consulting the workforce. They further said that they had now taken appropriate advice and were seeking to carry out their legal obligations.
The EAT in its judgement rejected these arguments, criticising Macmillan's "fudged response to the CAC when it sought for detailed information".
The EAT further criticised Macmillan for its failure to provide relevant employee information and for disobeying the order of the CAC made on 16 February 2006.
The EAT commenting on Macmillan's failure to implement the regulations stated, "It is difficult not to form the impression that it is opposed to these regulations and is seeking to delay their implementation for as long as it reasonably can"
The EAT further commented that it was "fixing this penalty, to stipulate a sum which, within the limits imposed by the legislation, will deter others from adopting what can only be described as the wholly cavalier attitude to their obligations that has been demonstrated by this company".
© Workrep 24 / 07 / 2007