- Provision of labour market information
- Social Dialogue
This instrument is available to companies with more than 50 employees and used in response to changes that have a considerable impact on the employment of the company and the national economy in general.
The possibility to avail of a labour consultant is regulated in an agreement from 1982 between the Swedish Confederation of Enterprises and the Confederation of Unions, LO and TCO. The advice of labour consultants is particularly relevant for union representatives (works councils) at the company level to analyse the consequences of a proposed restructuring and to look into alternative strategies or change proposals. The union representatives get a second opinion on the proposed change and have the opportunity to check that ample measures are taken in connection with the restructuring. Such measures can be relocations, direct dismissals, retirements etc.
The activities conducted by a labour consultant include:
- going through relevant economic and company background material that is important for the change decision – from auditing and annual reports to cost estimates; internal result reports and strategic documents on markets; products and technology
- interviewing managers, middle managers and employees in the concerned part of the company
- looking into market aspects and seeking information outside of the company
- analysing the proposal and its effects on the business, employment and working conditions
- proposing alternative strategies, including change process and redeployment measures
The labour consultant can be either an external or an internal expert.
Legal framework (codetermination act).
Employer or employee organisations
Union/works council often benefit from the availability of labour consultants during the restructuring process.
The legal framework of labour consultants is more than 30 years old. Due to globalisation, the labour market has fundamentally changed during this time frame. This requires higher skills from the union representatives when hiring a labour consultant. However, a report shows that half of the consultation processes lead to some kind of change – smaller or larger – in the way the was restructuring originally planned.
Union representatives can benefit by getting a greater knowledge of restructuring and its implications. It also leads to a greater understanding among the employees.
One approaches a labour consultant only after the announcement of the restructuring, which might be too late. The employer and the union must agree on the scope of the consultations. The agreement to companies restricts the right to hire a labour consultant only to those with more than 50 employees (LO, 2003).