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Business Management

Employee relations

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Employee Relations

Workers and managers do not always work in harmony. Conflict and trouble between these different groups with different aims occur in the workplace. This relationship is called Employee Relations.


Trade Unions are the name given to the organisations which support and represent employees. Trade Unions have certain aims:

  • To advance the interest of their workers
  • To achieve the best working conditions for its members
  • Negotiate pay deals for its members
  • Attend grievance and disciplinary hearings in support of their members
  • Provide members with legal advice and financial advice

Trade Unions operate a system called collective bargaining which means that together many people speaking with one voice can achieve better results than a solitary employee who could be easily ignored.

Some well-known Trade Unions are the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), UNISON and the Transport and General Worker’s Union (TGWU).

Employers’ Associations are the owners and managers version of Trade Unions. These groups often represent employers during any negotiation with the Unions.


The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) was created with the aim of improving employee relations between employers and workers. It is involved in disputes or disagreements between the differing parties. ACAS often ends up as an arbitrator in such disputes which means they assess the dispute and come to an independent resolution which the employers and workers decide to agree with.

ACAS’ website can be found at

There are three processes used in employee relations to try and reach a resolution in a dispute.

Negotiation is when employees and employers discuss their problems and issues together and try to reach a solution or compromise that is mutually acceptable.

Consultation usually occurs when a major change is being implemented into the workplace. In this model, employers ask or consult employees about their views on the issue (for example changes to the length of the working day) but they would also involve other stakeholders in this process. The decision employers take might not include any suggestions by employees.

Arbitration is when a dispute cannot be resolved. When this happens, a third party is called in who will make a judgement or ruling on the matter. ACAS is a well-known arbiter.

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Deborah Meaden

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