16 December 2009 #Employment
The Information and Consultation of Employees Regulations 2004 give employees certain rights to have their employer put in place an I&C agreement. Under the Regulations, following a valid employee request to negotiate an agreement, the employer must negotiate with negotiating representatives "as soon as is reasonably practicable". The Regulations then stipulate a timetable in which agreement should be reached (a period of 6 months, commencing 3 months after the original employee request was made).
This timetable had led some to believe that negotiations must start as soon as possible but within 3 months at the latest. However, the EAT has now confirmed in Darnton v Bournemouth University (2009) that there is no legal requirement on an employer to negotiate within 3 months - it must simply act "as soon as reasonably practicable". Government guidance suggesting the contrary is therefore incorrect.