Employee Relation and Its Significance
The present assignment is focused on employee relation and its significance. The assignment has three distinct parts to explore the different aspects of employee relation. The first section sheds light on the on the context of employee relation through unitary and pluralistic frames and assesses the main players. The second part explores industrial conflict, resolution and bargaining process through the case study of junior doctors' contract dispute. The final section evaluates the different processes and understanding of employee participation and involvement.
Part 1 –UK Specific
Different frames of references and implication of each perspective on employment relation (1.1)
Employee relation is the formal and the informal interconnection between the managers and the employees within the organisation(Polachek and Tatsiramos, 2008). Initially, employee relation was concerned with managers, employees and government union. Recently, employee relation has incorporated new players like customers, different interest groups, families and women. However, the terms of employment relationship vary for the different stakeholders within the organisation.
The concept of employee relation began with the development of human resource model in the year 1950. Johanson and Mattsson (2015)mentioned that industrial relation that developed since the period of industrial revolution helps to analyse employee relation through a multidisciplinary approach. Employment relation includes formal rules, process, style and informal understanding which often leads to conflict among the parties involved in employment relation. Hence, conflict is common in industrial relation. The process through dispute is resolved through peaceful means is called conflict resolution. The broad aspect of employee relation and perspectives of conflict would be discussed with the help of the unitary and pluralistic perspective.
Unitary perspective assumes all organisations to be a consolidated unit that focuses on attaining a common aim. It assumes that members of an organisation possess a fundamental unity of interest and hence thus the existence of conflict is not desired. Scott and Davis (2015) commented that employees and the employers should cooperate among themselves and depend on each other for fulfilling the desired aims of the organisation. As per the unitary perspective, there is no basis for conflict but occasional outburst can take place due to mistakes and poor communication. This perspective considers that trade unions within the organization are not beneficial for resolving conflict rather proper communication can help in the same. Unitary perspective has proved to be beneficial in some conflicts as it put stress on unity, integrity and dedication towards a common goal of the organisation.
Rodriguez (2014) put forward that unitary perspective creates major differences in power between the employees and employer and hence this is a serious downside. Moreover, this perspective disregards the interest of the employees as it considers the organisation to be an integrated unity.
Pluralistic perspective affirms the existence of conflict within an organisation due to the differences in interest between the employees and employers. Disputes between the employer and the employees can be resolved through the basics of industrial relation. According to pluralistic perspective, and organizations formed of different members who possess differences in opinion, their interest towards the organization varies, and this create conflict among different parties (Shipilov et al. 2014)Trade unions play a vital role in bringing forward the needs and the requirement of employees through the process of collective bargaining. The pluralistic approach allows the employees to involve in the decision-making process of the organisation.
However, as identified by Mitchell et al. (2016) pluralistic approach often forgets the commercial aspects of the organisation. The main objective of an organisation is to incur profit rather than addressing the needs of different employees.
Impact of changes in trade unionism on employee relation in the UK (1.2)
The trade unions work for satisfying the interest of the employees within an organisation. The condition of trade unions was not the same since the beginning and the management of the organisation protested against the activities of trade unions. Changes in trade union began since its decriminalisation in 1867 on the advice of royal commission. Trade union become legal with the development Trade Union Act 1871 under the perspective that organisation should reap the benefit for the employers as well as employees (Ackers, 2014).
The trade union was developed to safeguard the interest of the workers within an organisation. To prevent the union member from the threat of sacking, Trade Dispute Act 1965 was formed. This was followed by the formation of Equal Pay Act in 1970 and 1975 to ensure the equality of the workers and prevent discrimination. Trade Union and Labour Relation Act1974 and Employment Relation Act 1975 restructured the initial Industrial relation act 1971 to improve the immunity of the employees in industrial disputes and strikes. This act was again changed in 1992 with the formation Trade Union and Labour Relation Act 1992 that enhanced the rights of the trade unions to engage in the process of collective bargaining. With the formation of Employment Protection Act that combined the Acts of 1975 and 1978 led to the formation of tripartite employment relation and highlighted the role of ACAS(Pelling, 2016).
The changes in the legislation over 50 to 60 years has altered the demands of the trade union. The interest and quality of the workers have been promoted. The organisation focused on the training and the knowledge needs of the workers. The employee relationship has improved by addressing the social cohesion. In the year 2016, Trade Union Act 2016 was passed that made the subscription process of trade union more transparent to ensure fair representation. The Trade Union has improved the collaboration between the national and the international development agencies and enhanced human rights.
Roles of key players in employee relation (1.3)
The main players of the employee relation are:
- Employer: The employer within an organisation is responsible for generating as well as maintaining employee motivation. It is the responsibility of the employer create channels of communication within the organisation so that all the parties can gain an advantage. A high-level efficiency can be obtained by involving the employees in the process of decision-making. The terms and condition of employment should be negotiated with the employees. The employer should ensure the development and advancement of employees.
- Employee: The strategies that are implemented for employee relation are focused on the development of the employees and thus employees should focus on improving the condition of employment and this can be done through voicing grievances. They should exchange idea and views with the management for better understanding and participate in the decision-making process of the organisation. For proving their effectiveness and importance within the organisation, the employees should widen their ideas and take up new challenges (Panke, 2011).
- Trade Unions: Trade unions are responsible for deciding the terms and condition of employment through collective bargaining. At the time of conflict with the management, the trade unions represent the employees and thereby safeguard their interest. The formation of a trade union has enhanced the position of the employees to influence events in organisations.
- Employer associations: Employer association refers to a group of employers from the similar sector of the economy and are engaged in promoting the interest of member companies. Associations like Confederation of British Industry (CBI), Federation of Small Business, Institute of Directors, Building and Engineering Service Association and many others play the vital role of carrying out negotiations with trade unions. They make representation to other besides and provide recommendations (Gov.uk, 2017).
- Government: Government is responsible for maintaining peace and harmony at work thereby strengthening employee relation. Different rules and regulation are developed to ensure fair conduct of relationship. For instance, National Labour Relation Right was created to provide the labour union with the right to bargaining. Government works for attaining justice in society(Demirbas and Yukhanaev, 2011).
Part 2-Case Study
The procedures to be followed when dealing with different conflict situation (2.1)
Industrial conflict is the disparity of opinion between the management and the trade union of a particular organisation, which is grave enough for industrial action to be taken. Industrial conflict is associated with employment relation and can take place in any situation. There are different types of industrial conflicts such rivalry between departments, disputes among managers and interpersonal tensions. The parties involved in a dispute can go for strike, absenteeism and sabotage.
In the given case study, the conflict was between the British Medical Association (BMA) (Trade Union), NHS (employer) and the Department of Health (DH) (government) on the new proposal of changes in the working and the payment structure of junior doctors in 2013. Negotiation began in the year 2015 but was of little use and finally DH imposed the contract of overtime and rotation of work. Several strikes and lockouts went on between BMS, NHS and the government departments but the final reconciliation was never met(Full Fact, 2017). NHS needs to take account of different methods to assess the current conflict situation that is between the management and group of employees (BMA).
Collective bargaining is the procedure of making settlement between the parties involved in the conflict for a long time. NHS can use this process for making peace over the contract of junior doctors with BMA. The collective bargaining process began when DH first decided to change the contract for the junior doctors but still not settled on that matter. Negotiation is another procedure available to NHS but in the year 2015, BMA refused to make any negotiation on the contract with NHS (Cahn and Abigail, 2014).
Consultation and communication are the other procedures, which are available to NHS to resolve the conflict with BMA. This would need regular meetings and feedback sessions with the parties involve in conflict. However, this approach would not be much effective, as the BMS has already voted against the negotiation, which was made. Considering the present situation, the best way in NHS can resolve the conflict is allowing third party intervention(Wing, 2010).Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS)is an independent organisation, which can be contracted by the NHS for offering advice and over the problems related to the conflict. The first stage in this conflict resolution would process would include fact finding where the facts of the case would be reviewed. NHS can ask ACASto resolve the matter through conciliation in which the independent body would talk with different parties individually to reduce friction and thereby make resolution plan accordingly. Mediation is another process in which ACAS can participate in the negotiation process to handle the matter. However, BMA needs to accept the decision of ACAS when the final resolution is made.
Features of employee relation in relation to the conflict situation (2.2)
Employment relationship in the industry gives rise to the employer-employee relationship. The concept of the employee and employer relationship is diverse and quite complex. This relationship can be individual as well as collective. The relation between the employer and employee is the individual relationship while the collective relationship is seen between the employer’s association, trade union and the state governing these relations. This relationship can differ as per the situation. In this section, the features of employee relationship would be explored through conflict, cooperation and consultation that arise in a conflict situation.
Industrial conflict or disagreement between different parties can occur due to social, economic, political, and psychological aspects. The employee relation is not restricted to the organisation and employees but it can also extend to the government. The decision of DH (government) to change the employment contract initiated the dispute with the junior doctors of NHS. As a result of this dispute, the doctors felt accosted by the government and NHS and they went on strike for 3 days in the first week of December in 2015. To address the issue, DH designed a new contract that increased the working hours of the doctors but at the same salary and this resulted in another strike for five days in the first week of September in 2016. This feature of employee relation was considered to be the worst dispute in NHS.
This is another feature of employee relationship evident in the conflict situation as is in the given case study. Employee relation focuses on creating a harmonious relationship between the management and employees(Demirbas and Yukhanaev, 2011). The new contract made by DH for the junior doctors infused them (junior doctors) with hatred and opposition to the government. NHS tried to address the situation through communication, consultation and organising meeting with BMA. DH tried to negotiate the matter but the situation went out of control. On Septembers 2016, both the government and BMA decided to begin a new negotiation.
The groups involved in employer and employee relationship focuses on shaping the economic and social environment. DH focused on improving the social and the economic condition of healthcare service in the UK for which it restructured the working and payment contract of the junior doctors. To encourage consultation on the dispute process, Doctors and Dentist Review Body (DDRB) provided advice to the government to develop the recruitment structure. This independent body deals with payment structure of doctors and dentist. The recommendation was provided to the government for proper compensation to the doctors to develop to develop the service towards the patient (Matías‐Reche, et al. 2009).
Evaluation of the effectiveness of procedures followed to resolve conflict (2.3)
The dispute on Junior's doctor's contract has gone through conflict resolution process but are of little use. Strikes and lockouts by the junior doctors resulted in the loss of 129,000 working days in England. NHS and BM utilised conflict resolution to handle the situation. Negotiation and collective bargaining strategies were also used. However, the strategies were not followed effectively. The situation even grim when DH imposed the new contracts on the doctors in 2016.
The effectiveness of the appropriate conflict resolution strategies has been discussed here. The first step includes gathering information as shown below:
Figure 1: Conflict Resolution Process
(Source: Smith, 2002)
The effective of gathering information is essential to understand the reason and the motive of the conflict. It also helps in focusing on the behaviour for altering the conflict. This should be followed by creating developing plans for a possible solution and implementing them. The dispute on the contract of the junior doctor was a long-term issue which began un the year 2013. At the first attempt of making negotiation, the result was unsuccessful and then the consultation process began where DDRB acted as a consultant. Following well-structured process is important to resolve the conflict it helps to develop a satiation where the parties work comfortably where the parties work effectively to reach the solutions.
However, the conflict resolution of the given scenario is different. The resolution strategy was not followed effectively. In May 2016, DH made a new contract on overtime working of the doctors and imposed on the junior doctors. This again resulted in a strike. DH, NHS and BMS failed to reach the conclusion peacefully. The senior doctors supported the junior doctors and wrote an application to Mr Cameron to address the situation. Thus, the situation of the conflict is still under process(The Independent, 2017).
Role of negotiation in collective bargaining of conflict (3.1)
Collective bargaining is the procedure of making negotiation between the employer and the employees based on the terms and the condition of the employee relation. To make the collective bargaining work, the management, union members and the representative’s should accept the contract. One of the parties involved in the conflict can initiate the process of collective bargaining and its forms an important part of the social dialogue(Masui, 2013). The scope of collective bargaining includes addressing the issues of the labour contracts as mandated by Wagner Act. Collective bargaining can be used for negotiating wages, terms and condition of employment, working hours and grievances.
Shop Steward or the union representative play an essential role in the negotiation process of collective bargaining by communicating information between the employer and employees. It is the responsibility of the shop steward to attend meetings of union branch and proved the information to the workplace. The shop stewards had to gather facts, which form the first stage of negotiation and collective bargaining began.
Figure 2: Collective Bargaining Process
(Source: DeCenzo et al. 2005)
The second stage of collective bargaining includes contract negotiation through cooperation between the parties. This help in safeguarding the interest of the employees. Considering the case of junior doctor’s contract, an agreement was made between NHS, DH and BMA in the November in 2015. However, the next stage of the agreement was not received. Considering the new contract, the doctors voted against in favour of strikes. This made the government suspend the plan at the end of the month. Che(2002) commented that negotiation help to safeguard the interest of the workers. This was evident in this case as the BMA was able to put forward their views and thus promoted the interest of thousands of doctors in England.
The negotiation in collective includes five different stages. After ‘contract negotiation’ reaches the stage of the agreement, the employees go for union ratification and finally contract administration is made. Hence, negotiation helps in preparing a proposal, creating ideas to bring changes in the organisation. However, the situation was different in the case of BMA, NHS and DH, as negotiation does not result in agreement and union ratification. A new offer was made the government on January 2016 but again did not satisfy the doctors and they called for a strike. The situation has not resolved yet. However, carrying out proper negotiation can help to resolve the issue. The imposition of new contracts on the doctors is hampering the situation and this need to be addressed as soon as possible(The Independent, 2017).
Different negotiation strategies and their impact on this conflict (2.5)
Negotiation is the conversation between the parties involved in the conflict to reach an appropriate conclusion that would help in catering the needs of all the parties. The two different types of negotiation strategies are generally used are a distributive and integrative negotiation.
Distributive Negotiation also knew as win-lose negotiation allows parties to compete for the distribution of a fixed amount of value. The parties involved in this type of negotiation has a win-lose attitude as it would help in reaching the goals as the main objective of this type of strategy is to fulfil the target at any cost without giving a second thought for the future relationship. In this type of negotiation strategy, one party wins while the other loses (Johnson et al. 2011).
Integrative negotiation strategy, on the other hand, allows the parties in conflict to cooperate for reaching a satisfactory resolution. The parties involved in this strategy have win-win attitude, as the result would create a suitable outcome for both the parties involved in the conflict. The interest, needs and desires of the disputants are maintained through this strategy. The prime objective of the integrative strategy is to create beneficial agreements taking account of the interest of the parties(Brett, 2015).
Considering the conflict over the contract of the junior doctors. Even after several meeting and negotiation, the conflict did not resolve. The government at first brought the pay-cut contract, the doctors rejected this, and the government was forced to remove it. Thus, distributive negotiation as applied in this case. This is a complete win-lose situation, either the interest of the doctors would be fulfilled or that of the government. Meeting were organised to understand the point of view of the BMA but were of no use. The conflict can be resolved through a distributive strategy of negotiation. If the doctors win then they would continue to work for fewer hours at a high price and the NHS needs to employ more doctors and if the government win then the doctors have to work for long hours at the structured salary. The conflict is under such a situation that both the parties cannot win and one needs to sacrifice for the others. However, the strikes cannot go for ages and hence it is essential for the government to address the situation through either new contract or by accepting the current demands of the doctors.
Part- 3 EU Perspective
Influence of EU on industrial democracy in the UK and assess the changes after UK exit EU
Industrial democracy can be defined as the agreement that includes the workers in the process of making decisions and share reasonability as well as authority in the organisation. The development of European Union (EU) has encouraged the development of industrial democracy and this has led to the growth of the business. The basic role of EU in industrial democracy would be discussed with a focus on Burberry, a British fashion retailer (Emery, 2013).
The legislation implemented by EU ensures the more prominent role of the workers within the organisation and allowing them to take part in the decision-making process. The British luxury industry has ‘partner-based-relationship’ between the union and the management due to the existence of the EU. This has helped the workers to work effectively and safeguard the objectives. EU has also developed rules for regulating the workplace relation since 1990. Based on the regulation of EU, Burberry provides employees with adequate working condition and remuneration. The development of ICE regulation has made it essential for the employers to consult and inform the employees about any significant changes in regulation. EU has led to the development of Special Negotiating Bodies (SNB) for managing employee relation in the member countries. Burberry has abided by these rules. While closing at Treorchy, the management of the company consulted with the trade unions and the staffs at the site (Burberry, 2017).
Recently the UK has voted exit European Union and this can create a far-reaching effect on the business and industrial democracy. The employment laws in the UK would see a large number of changes the rules that were implemented to safeguard the workers would see a setback. However, Mr Thomas mentioned that laws related to industrial democracy would not change much. Regulations of staff equality, treatment of part-time and full-time workers would remain same. The ‘week pay' including the commission and overtime would change to as basic salary that is being paid as holiday pay (Smith, 2017).
b) Different methods that are utilised to gain employee participation and involvement in decision-making process: (4.2)
According to Pawar and Pawar (2016), participation among employees mainly involve workers that are exerting one upward as well as countervailing pressures on the control of management that need to imply the unity of purposes among non-managers as well as managers. Participation of employees generally involves employees in sharing their ideas so that management can make effective decisions. Therefore, with the help of this motivational tool, Burberry can increase employee morale as well as the satisfaction that can reduce employee conflict and improve efficiencies. Management of Burberry can apply the tool in order to increase organisational productivity. Management of Burberry mainly applied the following method to increase the employee productivity.
Employee attitude survey increases employee participation by providing a clear picture regarding the need of the company. This method is effective for Burberry for soliciting the opinions of the employees in different types of issues like the success of the company for communicating the mission of the company to their employees along with other issues such as working environment related issues or quality issues (Sahadev et al. 2017). The concerning areas of this kind of survey are functional expertise, innovation, senior level management, satisfaction etcetera.
Representative participation is another method where employees, employers along with the representatives of union mainly involved and discussed different issues of the company. In this method, all of the parties can smoothly share their ideas related to the respective issues so that an effective work environment of cooperation can be formed. However, in this process, all employees are not allowed to provide their ideas.
Burberry can apply the quality circle method in order to gain the idea related to organisational issues by following a top-down approach by forming an effective group. Here the negative sides of this method are the involvement is restricted to only some members of employees that have more knowledge (Donovan et al. 2016).
c) Impact of human resource management approach: (4.3)
As stated by Xi et al. (2017), for the establishment of the unity as well as harmony, human resource management related to the employee relations mainly focuses on the communication, responsibilities, quality, flexibility and involvement etcetera. For facilitating an effective relationship with the employees, human resource management provides effective information related to the latest development related to different business situations, need regarding the development and training, new approach to the process of working and change in the process of work etcetera. Human resource management of Burberry plays an effective role to strengthening the bonding among different employees that help them to maintain an effective relationship with employers. In the Burberry, the HR managers play an effective role for involving the employees into the productive things that helps the employers to understand the productivity level among employees. along with that, human resource management engages the employees in different extracurricular activities along with the interactive training approaches so that it can help them to involve employees in effective engagement process (Sahadev et al. 2017). Along with that, effective human resource management can increase employee engagement and helps them to avoid pluralistic approaches in the organisation so that they can follow an effective unitary perspective in the company to increase organisational productivity.
With the help of above discussion, it can be said that employee relations process in any company is one of the complexes as well as the distinctive process that involves interacting both the external as well as internal variables. In order to reduce the conflict in a different level of employees, it is important for Burberry to engage employees with more efficiency. It is important for the organisation to implement an effective management style or non-partial recruitment and training process so that it can motivate employees to involves ineffective employee engagement process and securing good organisational productivity.