HC Deb 13 July 2000 vol 353 cc616-7W
32. Mr. Casale

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps he is taking to promote wider consultation with employees in small and medium-sized enterprises. [128974]

Ms Hewitt

The Government are committed to promoting a strong partnership culture in the workplace—including in small and medium enterprises.

To this end we have established the Partnership Fund which aims to promote the goal of better employee communications. The fund makes available £5 million over four years to assist with the development of workplace projects including improved consultation of employees. 18 such workplace projects, have received funding, involve SMEs.

We are also working to promote best practice by spreading the message about the achievements of the best companies, whether large or small. Business Links are able to provide guidance to appropriate sources of advice. The independent Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) also produces guidance material and works with employers to help modernise their employment practices. The 1998 review of the Service identified this as a priority area for ACAS.

In addition, small and medium enterprises are subject to the existing statutory framework for information and consultation of employees, as regards proposed collective redundancies (i.e more than 20 redundancies proposed at one establishment within a 90 day period), transfers of undertakings, health and safety and information for the purposes of collective bargaining.