B1400 – Representation in the Workplace Bill 2018 (Second Reading)

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Saracen's Fez
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B1400 – Representation in the Workplace Bill 2018 (Second Reading), SoggyCabbages MP
Representation in the Workplace Bill 2018

A
BILL
TO


Grant workers greater participation in companies decisions..

BE IT ENACTED by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

1: Definitions

(1) For the purposes of this Act an eligible company is one that has in excess of the equivalent of 20 full time workers.
(2) A full time worker shall be deemed one who works 37.h hours per week.
(3) A major decision may include, but is not limited to, sale of the company, lay-offs of over 10% of the workforce or over 1000 staff members, moving work location, etc.
(4) Full time or nearly full time means any worker who on average over the previous month has worked the equivalent of 22.5 hours per week.


2: Workers Councils

(5) All full or nearly full time workers in eligible companies will have the right to organise themselves into a workers council.
(6) If a workplace has under 20 employees then all employees must be able to vote on all council decisions, otherwise delegates must be elected from the workforce
a) The number of delegates cannot exceed 10% of the workforce.
(7) All employees in a workers council must be allowed time each month, detailed in section 10, to be used for organising activity related to the Worker's Council
(8) If any employee is sacked for legitimate activity related to organising the Worker's Council, it shall be considered unfair dismissal.
(9) Councils shall have the following rights and duties:
a) To liaise between the employees and employers and owners of the workplace.
b) A delegate from the worker's council shall be allowed to accompany and advise any employee who faces a disciplinary tribunal or hearing.
c) Hold a General Meeting at least once per year to elect as many representatives as they deem necessary to carry out their tasks as well as elect a Council Leader
d) The Worker's Council shall be allowed to engage in collective bargaining for pay and conditions.
e) The General Meeting shall be allowed to ballot the workers in a workplace on industrial action, which shall be legal if 50%+1 of the workers in a workplace vote for it.
(10) Employers must be given the following amount of time to attend council meetings depending on the number of employees as follows :-
a) Where a workplace has fewer than 20 employees half an hour every other month must be given to employee,
a) Where a workplace has 20-50 employees half an hour each month must be given to each delegate,
b) Where an employer has 50-200 employees 1 hour must be given to delegates and a council leader must be allowed 4 hours per month,
c) Where an employer has 200-500 employees 2 hours must be given to delegates and a council leader must be allowed 6 hours per month,
c) Where an employer has 500-1000 employees 2 hours must be given to delegates and a council leader must be allowed 8 hours per month.


3: Council Leaders

(11) Any workers council that elects delegates may also elect a Council Leader.
(12) The council leader will have the following rights and duties:
a) Must hold a vote equivalent to 50%+1 of the shares in that company during any major decision.
b) Must hold a vote equivalent to 30% of the shares in that company during any other vote.
c) Must be invited to attend any meetings discussing a major decision, even if no vote is taking place.
d) Is allowed to engage in collective negotiations on behalf of the Workers Council.
(13) To use the powers granted in Section 12, subsection a), a vote must take place with all employees in the workplace able to vote.
a) This vote will be considered to have passed if 50%+1 of the employees vote approval.


4: Commencement, Extent and Short Title

(14) This Act shall come into force on 6th April 2019
(15) This Act shall extend to England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
(16) This Act shall be known as the Freedom At Work Act 2018

Notes
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As already happens in Germany, France, Belgium, Spain, Holland and Luxembourg among others, allowing workers to influence the decisions that govern those companies helps secure the rights of workers as well as giving companies better insights into all layers of their company, particularly in large companies.


Changes to Second Reading
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* The Hours given for council organising has been reduced and made dependant on the size of the company. It has also been clarified that it is only delegates who are able to use this time to organise council buisiness.
* Council sizes have been limited to 10% of the workforce.
* Clarification has been added so that for a council leader to use a veto they must first pass a vote among the emploees of the workplace and persuade over 50% to vote agreement in order to prevent a small number of employees essentially controling the council.
* Employee size to start a WC has been increased to 20 employees, but a distinction has been added so that only workplaces employing over 50 members of staff can elect delegates and a Council Leader.

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CatusStarbright
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Firstly, it's good to see that what members said in the original debate has been taken onboard and adjustments have been made accordingly. However, clauses two and four still clash, as I did point out. They say that a full time worker is someone who works 37 hours per week and at the same time is someone who on average over the previous month has worked the equivalent of 22.5 hours per week. This does not make sense to me.

To fix this, you could have: (2) A full time worker shall be deemed one who works an average of 37 hours per week, and; (4) Nearly full time means any worker who on average over the previous month has worked the equivalent of 22.5 hours per week.

As for the rest of it, I appreciate the effort made with amending to limit Council sizes to 10% of the workforce, but this could still be massive numbers. If a company has 2,000 employees then they could have 200 delegates which is huge. If we use Greggs as an example (20,000 employees), the workers could create a council of up to 2,000 workers. This seems to be unmanageable to me, especially since the Council as a whole can engage in collective bargaining.

I also still fundamentally disagree with paying workers to engage in such activities. As I said before, if they want to do so then fine, but they should do so in their own time.

I cannot support this bill.
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EagleKingdom
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I disagree with this bill.

First of all, why should an employee have a say in the running of a business, where they hold no managerial position and have had no involvement in the start-up of it? Why should an employee of a business have a say in major decision making that can have great impact on the business itself, that could potentially lead to it no longer operating?

The limitation of delegates to 10% of the workforce can still be a problem for large business, small businesses included. If a business were to have 5000 employees, 500 of them would be a member of the Worker's Council. In my opinion, that is too much for a business to manage, especially for when the time arrives for these delegates to make a critical decision in a short time-frame. To me, it seems as this proposition gives more control to the council that they should have, posing a threat to a business owner and potentially giving the council the capability of overruling and taking advantage of said business owner. This could also open the risks of corruption within the Worker's Council, with the formation of small posse's that would be bargaining for their own personal interests.

Are there any statistics to suggest the effectiveness of works councils in Germany, France, Belgium, Spain, Holland or Luxembourg? Are there statistics on whether there is an increase or decrease in productivity in the workplace? Are there any risks that pose to the formation of a works council e.g. a lack of interest from employees, lack of suitable candidates for membership?

I can definitely acknowledge that if employees of a business were to be heard on what they deem to be fair pay and the type of benefits they would like to receive, it could possibly lead to more motivation and enthusiasm in the workplace. But, in all honesty, if a business wants to attract more workers then it is them that should set competitive salaries and good benefit packages. This bill in my opinion has many loopholes and takes the advisory aspect for the voice of the employee from the council and turns them into a board of directors, giving them more control than they should have.
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Saracen's Fez
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This bill is in cessation.
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This bill has been withdrawn.
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