Following the publication of the Nuttall Review of Employee Ownership (reported here), the Government has now issued a call for evidence on raising awareness of employee ownership, including the proposed statutory right to request employee ownership. Views are sought by 7 September 2012.
The Nuttall Review recommends that Government considers statutory and non-statutory options for a ‘right to request’ employee ownership. The Government's call for evidence asks a number of key questions, including the following:
• Is a statutory approach best to encourage discussion between employees and their employers or are there other mechanisms?
• Who can receive a request and what should the request cover? The Nuttall Review recommends that any right to request employee ownership should be focused on private companies alongside the right to provide in the public sector, and employees should be left a broad scope as to what they can request.
• What is the employer required to do? The Nuttall Review concludes that a statutory right to request could provide a greater ‘nudge’ to ensure that employee ownership is more often discussed in business contexts. It also recommends that regulatory burdens to employers are minimised, and that any statutory duty on employers should be limited to showing reasonable consideration of the request.
• What would be the grounds for turning down a request? The Nuttall Review states that the grounds for turning down a request should be drawn broadly to avoid unnecessary burdens on business, and that simply stating the reason for turning down a request should be sufficient for compliance.
• Who should be eligible to make a request? The Nuttall Review recommends a minimum requirement for a) the proportion of employees in a company and b) the length of time they serve before a request can be made.
• How should a right to request be introduced? The Nuttall Review recommends that the Government considers how the introduction of the right to request is phased to ensure effective implementation, for example limiting it by company size, or making it applicable to specific stages of the business lifecycle.
Given the existing right to request flexible working, which has provided a clear framework for employees and employers, it will be interesting to see how employers respond to the proposed right to request employee ownership. If you would like to respond to the call for evidence, please email email@example.com by 7 September 2012.