employment relations



EMPLOYMENT RELATIONS ACT 1999

The following are the main provisions in the Act.


TRADE UNION RECOGNITION – The new legislation will allow Trade Unions to seek collective bargaining rights with employers in certain circumstances. Independent trade unions can exist in organisation’s employing 21 or more workers, if that is the wish of a majority of the workforce.
The procedure seeks to encourage voluntary agreements where possible. However sometimes Trade Unions and Employees cannot reach an agreement, in these cases the decision will be taken by the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC), which will decide the appropriate bargaining unit and whether the union should be recognised. Also, if it finds it necessary it can impose a legally - binding procedure for bargaining about pay, hours and holidays.


ACAS CODE OF PRACTICE ON DISCIPLINARY AND GRIEVANCE PROCEDURES - On 4th September 2000, ACAS (Advisory conciliation and Arbitration Service) published its revised Code of Practice. Included in the new code is the statutory right of an employee to be accompanied by a fellow worker or a TU representative at disciplinary and grievance hearings.

The right applies only to those hearings, which deal with serious matters,
such as disciplinary matters. ( e.g. Hearings resulting in a warning or some other action against the worker) In the case of grievances, the right applies in hearings concerned with the performance of a statutory, contractual or other duty by the
employer in relation to the worker. Individuals who seek to be accompanied or who seek to accompany another worker will also be protected against victimisation for doing so.


TIME OFF FOR DEPENDENTS - All employees will have the right to take a reasonable period of time off work to deal with an emergency involving a dependant.

PARENTAL LEAVE DIRECTIVE - This provides a right to parents of up to 13 weeks unpaid leave to individuals who meet the conditions within the regulations.

THE MATERNITY LEAVE REGULATIONS - Leave will increase to 18 weeks and the qualifying service for additional maternity leave will reduce from two years to one year.

PART TIME WORK REGULATIONS - New regulations come into force for the purpose of ensuring that persons in part time employment are treated no less favourably than those in full time employment.

The national minimum wage
This came into force on 1 April 1999 throughout the UK. In most cases workers aged 22 or over will receive at least £3.60 per hour (£3.70 per hour from 1st October 2000), workers aged 18-21 will receive £3.20 per hour (from 1st June 2000).

The public interest disclosure act
This came into force on 2 July 1999 and protects workers against detriments or dismissal for raising concerns or disclosing information about matters in the public interest.

Unfair dismissal rights
Since 1 June 1999 qualifying service for unfair dismissal has reduced from two years to one year.
From October 1999 the maximum compensation for unfair dismissal increased from £12,000 to £50,000 in most of unfair dismissal claims.

Working time regulations
These, provide new basic rights and protection for many workers, ensuring they do not have to work excessive hours and in addition give rights to four weeks paid holiday entitlement.



Trade Union Recognition and Individual Representation rights on disciplinary and grievance procedures are the two areas that create the most challenging implications for an organization’s operating levels. (Management, Trade Unions, employers)

Implications for Management


Management should from now on, pay more attention on the way it is dealing with employee relationships, as procedures are stricter than ever. Probably the hardest task will be implementing the changes imposed by the new Act. Management should also focus on creating a standardised approach towards employee relationships, thus creating a harmonized and unified structure within the organisation. Furthermore, the management must decide the boundaries that should be set in order to achieve objective judgments in exceptional cases as well as the measures that will allow all relevant procedures to be controlled.

Harvard Business school 1984 stated that employees were a ‘major stakeholder’ and that ‘It is critical that managers design and administer various mechanisms for employee influence’ (Beer et al 1984)

Looking at the case more deeply, the role of management is one of seeking to reconcile the inevitable conflicts that either result from poor communications or from people seeking to further their own interests.