What does information and consultation involve?
There are two stages:
- Stage 1 – The provision of written information to the representatives.
- Stage 2 – Consultation on the proposed redundancies “with a view to reaching agreement” about certain matters
Stage 1: Provision of information
The first stage in the collective consultation process is to provide the representatives with written information including details of the proposed redundancies (often called a section 188 letter). This information must be given to the appropriate representatives and the time limit before dismissals can take effect does not start to run until they have received it. It is this information which ‘starts the clock’.
It is possible that there will be changes to the proposals during the consultation process: indeed that is part of the reason for the process. The employer’s obligation is not just to provide the appropriate representatives with the relevant information at the start of the process. It is under a continuing obligation to provide them with information in writing about any developments during the consultation process (although later changes do not ‘restart the clock’ before dismissals can take effect).
Stage 2: Consultation on the proposed redundancies “with a view to reaching agreement” about certain matters
The consultation process must include consultation “with a view to reaching agreement with the appropriate representatives” on ways of:
- Avoiding the dismissals
- Reducing the number of employees to be dismissed
- Mitigating the consequences of the dismissals