Guidance on informing and consulting staff

The University’s Agreement on Consulting and Informing Employees, to which this guidance is appended, provides the means by which the University complies with the Information and Consultation of Employees Regulations 2004.

Departmental communication, and in the case of academic employees divisional communication, with employees is an important part of the University’s overall communications strategy.

Many departments will already have in place local arrangements for consulting and informing employees and arrangements that are suitable for one department may not always be suitable for another. Similarly, divisions will have their own structures and arrangements where communication at the divisional level is appropriate. It is not, therefore, intended that departments or divisions should be asked to follow a prescriptive model, although advice on appropriate arrangements is, of course, available from University HR on request.

The checklist below is provided so that departments and divisions can be sure that their local arrangements for informing and consulting employees generally comply with the requirements of employment law:

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Induction arrangements should be in place for all newly appointed employees. Employees who manage or supervise others should, in particular, be made aware of their responsibility for informing and consulting those employees.

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The means by which employees are kept informed will vary from department to department and according to whether in particular circumstances it is the responsibiity of the department or division to inform them. All employees should be included in the distribution of information. Where there are employees who do not have ready access to email, arrangements should be made by departments to communicate with them by printed communication and/or posting on noticeboards. Such employees should be informed as to how their department intends to communicate with them.

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Employees should be kept informed about:

  • the department’s structure
  • the work carried out in the department, and its academic objectives
  • the department’s financial situation and plans
  • any changes that are planned to the work of the department or to how work is carried out
  • departmental arrangements for:
    • health and safety at work
    • employee training and development
    • implementing the University’s policies on diversity and equal opportunities
  • who within the department is responsible for each of the above activities and how they may be contacted

Divisions will wish to ensure that academic employees are similarly informed in respect of those areas of responsibility that fall to the division rather than to the department or faculty board.

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Consultation differs from more general communication and provision of information in that it must afford an opportunity for employees to express their views and to have those views taken into account.

Departmental consultation with employees may be managed by a variety of means, and those means are likely to vary according to the topic for consultation and the size and structure of the department. They may include, for example:

  • the establishment of departmental information and consultation committees
  • regular staff meetings
  • ad hoc staff meetings called for a specific purpose
  • sub-department or team meetings and briefings
  • email communication or intranet discussions

Divisions will wish to ensure that appropriate arrangements are in place for consulting academic employees when such consultation is the responsibility of the division rather than the department or faculty board.

Consideration should be given to enabling all employees, regardless of their level of seniority, to express their views freely.

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Employees should be consulted at the earliest possible stage about plans that will affect their working lives.

For example new systems of work, work rosters, sickness reporting, and leave booking arrangements. The staff of University HR will, on request, give specific advice on whether and, if so, when, to consult on a matter.

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Departments should brief trade union and/or directly elected representatives about departmental plans that will affect the working lives of employees in advance of employees more generally being informed

Some employees may prefer to feed back their views through a representative and briefed representatives can help to allay unwarranted concerns amongst staff. Where such information is given in confidence this must be made clear to the representatives. It may be helpful to produce an adapted version of the central agreement on consulting and informing employees in order to clarify the remit of any local consultative arrangements with staff representatives. Briefing may take place with either local or University-level representatives; contact details, and advice on appropriate arrangements, may be obtained on request from University HR via the HR Business Partner.

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