How would you characterise employee representation in the UK workplace? - Employment Relations introduction?? To what extent do you agree with the argument that the UK is ‘lightly regulated’ in this regard? Introduction This paper seeks to analyse the characteristics of employee representation in the UK and concerns about is the UK ‘lightly regulated’ in regard of the employee representation. Employee representation can be known as the right of workers to seek a union or an individual to represent them to negotiate with their organizations with a wide range of management issues, such as wage rate, working hours, working conditions, health and safety and also their benefits.
It is vital to have a formal system of employee representation in a business. This can give an opportunity for a business to communicate with employees and the law requires a business to consult with the employees in some situations. It helps management and employees to understand more about the workplace issues and other factors that could affect a business. Moreover, this could help to build up trust between employees and managers and therefore workplace relations could be improved. In the UK workplace, there are forms of employee representation which are trade union, non-trade union and indirect representative participation.
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As for the UK is ‘lightly regulated’ in employee representation is being concerned, there are many workplaces still do not have their employee representations. To a large extent, I agree with this argument. Common structure of employee representation does not exist in the UK and the most common way that legally forces employers to deal with employees is the unions. However, union recognition is decreasing. Characteristics of worker representation Employee representation is basically refers to the discussions between employers and employee representatives. This helps to protect employees’ right and to make sure that they are fairly treated.
Those representatives could be elected by employees or chosen by managers (Fulton, 2011). There are some advantages and disadvantages of the employee representation should be concerned. The benefits of employee representation are to increase the motivation and empowerment of the labour and better decision making due to the employees’ views are taken into account and lower risk of industrial conflicts. With regard to the drawbacks of workplace representation, time consuming is one of the major disadvantages because it could possibly slower the decision making process.
Also, managers might feel their authority is being weakened (Riley, 2012). Move on to the trade union, non-trade union and individual representative participation aspects, there are great differences between union and non-union representatives. Trade union is an organisation which membership includes workers and union leaders, join together to protect their common interests. They are usually presented in larger organizations or workplaces, for example, British Airways and National Health Service. Union representatives are more formal than the non-union representatives.
They hold meetings with those representatives and receive more external information than the non-union representatives. In addition, joint consultation allows employees to take part in determining the problems and managers seek opinion from workers for efficient solutions (Salaman, 2000). However, non-union representatives are more likely to contact managers in an informal way. Non-union employees do not belong to a trade union or labour union. Apart from these, union can take advantage on collective bargaining due to the power of the group and they are covered by contract.
While non-union workers are less likely to be covered by contract. Employee representatives are often be an unpaid and voluntary role. As for the indirect representative participation, it is where the employees are involved through their representatives, usually chosen from a larger group. To what extent do I agree with the argument that the UK is ‘lightly regulated’ in employee representation. Moving on to the argument that the UK is ‘lightly regulated’ in this aspect, to a large extent I agree with this statement. As we know that, there are still some workplaces are lack of employee representations, for example, smaller firms.
According to the British Trades Union Congress, there were types of vulnerable workers, such as agency workers, atypical workers, young workers, industrial home workers, etc. Vulnerable workers can be defined as ’someone working in an environment where the risk of being denied employment rights is high and who does not have the capacity or means to protect themselves from that abuse. Both factors need to be present. A worker may be susceptible to vulnerability, but that is only significant if an employer exploits that vulnerability’ (DTI, 2006: 25).
They are lack of employment protection (Pollert and Charlwood, 2009) and no union representations. They have no opportunity to express their opinion and no right to negotiate with their employers about their working conditions and terms. The UK government should set up unions for these vulnerable workers, in order to help them to receive better treat from their employers. Moreover, there is a significant decline in trade union recognition and representation and the nature of negotiation shifts to consultation (Terry, 2010). As it mentioned above, there is no absolute right to representation in the UK at the moment.
The most common way to negotiate with firms is through the trade union. However, trade union recognition is declining in these recent years. Government should implement more new legislation to support trade union and put more attention on helping workers to fight for what they deserve. Other than the negligence of the vulnerable workers, research has found that less than 10 % of union law budget is spent on employment law, the budget and the funds are being question as union subscription fees are paid but what exactly is it use for? No policies or regulations are there to regulate the spending of the union.
As there is no clearly regulation or guideline on this, members are difficult to work out whether their fees are paid for good causes and is the fund is actually there to help them. This has show that government has little control on trade union which on the financial side of view, trade union is lightly regulated. Conclusion To conclude, there are three main types of workers representations which are trade union, non-union and indirect representative participation. However, trade union is the major channel of employee representations. They all comprise with their own benefits and drawbacks.
Trade union recognition has declined recently. As the consequences, ‘hollow shell’ trade union recognition appears, labour might not be able to seek help from trade union for negotiating with employers. Although there are some failures on controlling the employee representations by the UK government, there are still some successful legislation done by the government, such as minimum wage rate and Information and Consultation of Employees Regulations. These legislations could help to support union. The government should invest more on vulnerable workforce, in order to protect their rights.
Also, the UK government should concern more about the budget use of the union to avoid lightly regulated on the financial aspect. Reference Anon (2007), Employee Representation [online] website: http://www. eurofound. europa. eu/areas/industrialrelations/dictionary/definitions/employeerepresentation. htm [Accessed 12 March, 2007] Sian Moore, Ali Tasiran and Steve Jeffreys (2008), the impact of employee representation upon workplace industrial relations outcomes [online] website: http://www. bis. gov. uk/files/file47737. pdf [Accessed September, 2008]
Jim Riley (2012), Communication- employee representation [online] website: http://www. tutor2u. net/business/people/communication_emplee_rep. asp [Accessed 23 September, 2012] Craig Woodman, Differences between Union and Nonunion workers [online] website: http://www. ehow. com/info_8324163_difference-between-union-nonunion-workers. html Kemp, Adam, Union and non-union forms of employee voice and its impact on organizational performance as a whole [online] website: http://www. coursework4you. co. uk/essays-and-dissertations/sample109. php L. Fulton (2011), Workplace Representation [online] website: http://www. orker-participation. eu/National-Industrial-Relations/Countries/Un ited-Kingdom/Workplace-Representation Adrian Wilkinson, Paul J. Gollan, Mick Marchington, David Lewin, CONCEPTUAIZING EMPLOYEE PARTICIPATION IN ORGANIZATIONS, P. 11 [online] website: http://fds. oup. com/www. oup. com/pdf/13/9780199207268. pdf DTI (2006), Protecting Vulnerable Workers, Supporting Good Employers [online] website: http://wes. sagepub. com/content/23/2/343 [Accessed 17 January, 2011] Anon, Trade union failure, Less than 10% of the union law budget spent on employment law [online] website: http://www. employees. org. uk/union-failure. html