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Employee relations’ refers to the collective relationships that an employer has with its employees. These relationships may be with the entire employee group, or with smaller groups within it, but they are always with groups of employees.
Employee relations is about the relationship between employees and employer that is conducted through communication with trade unions, staff associations
or representatives of employees, or directly with groups of employees.
The relationship an individual has with the employer, for example by agreeing, as an individual, to attend work and to be bound by disciplinary rules, is not employee relations’.
We believe in a dynamic approach. Employee relations needs managing. We are neither pro- nor anti-union. However, if a trade union is an obstacle to a client’s objectives, we reckon it is better to make plans to overcome this than to accept the status quo. So we may recommend that the company set up other channels of communication; or reduce the influence of the union; or
enhance one union at the expense of another. If no union is recognised, we also draw up plans that promote the client’s objectives. This may mean winning the support of the workforce through initiatives to promote a helpful
dialogue, for example.
There are statutory requirements for collective action, such as to consult about redundancy, or to provide information. We ‘manage’ these activities, to retain control of the agenda, information and timescales, rather than passively apply the legislation.
We reckon that efforts to talk to employees and tell them about the business are likely to help, rather than hinder, productivity.