The ICE Regulations were introduced into UK law in 2005 and give effect to a European directive of 2002 on informing and consulting with employees in national-scale undertakings. The regulations cover all undertakings engaged in ‘economic activity’ (i.e. businesses, voluntary organizations, cooperatives, partnerships, and public-service organizations) with fifty or more employees. The ‘standard provisions’ of the regulations entitle employees to be informed about the economic situation of the undertaking, informed and consulted about employment prospects, and informed and consulted about decisions likely to lead to substantial changes in work organization or contractual relations, including redundancies and transfers. Many undertakings covered by the regulations will have procedures in place that conform to its requirements. Where a procedure is absent, one can be established either voluntarily by the employer or via a request from at least 10 per cent of employees. The regulations place a premium on flexibility, and there is a wide scope for employers, employees, and trade unions to negotiate a procedure that is matched to the structure and established industrial relations practice of the undertaking (see subsidiarity). The new law is significant for the UK because it provides for the creation of procedures akin to works councils and potentially supplements the established system of worker representation through trade unions with a new, second channel based on statutory rights to information and consultation. [See European works council.]
Subjects: Human Resource Management.