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Occurs when managers seek the views of employees and take them into account when making decisions. The focus of consultation may be the individual employee but more usually managers consult with employee representatives. The latter may be trade union representatives, as occurs with traditional joint consultation in the UK, or they may be non-union representatives, including works councillors. Viewed as a form of employee participation in management, consultation is stronger than information sharing but weaker than forms of joint decision-making such as codetermination and collective bargaining. Partly for this reason, trade unions are sometimes sceptical of the value of consultation. Consultation is also viewed with scepticism by some because it tends to concentrate on non-controversial and perhaps relatively unimportant issues, whilst more important questions to do with pay, hours of work, and other conditions of employment are the subject of collective bargaining. Under European law, there is a requirement on employers to engage in consultation with workforce representatives on specific issues, including health and safety, collective redundancy, and transfer of undertakings. In other areas, the law provides an incentive to consult, for example, working time. In addition, in large multinational enterprises, there is a general obligation to consult on aspects of business policy that affect workers in two or more member states of the European Union (see European works council). Finally, since 2002 a general requirement to consult with employees on employment prospects and major organizational change has been established across the European Union through the Information and Consultation Directive [see Information and Consultation of Employees (ICE) Regulations].

Subjects: Human Resource Management.

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