EAT awards £55,000 penalty for failure to comply with ICE regulations

United Kingdom

In Amicus v Macmillan Publishers Ltd (24th July) the EAT has awarded a penalty for the first time for failing to comply with the Information and Consultation of Employee (ICE) Regulations 2004.

The ICE Regulations require larger employers to put in place arrangements to ensure that employees are informed and consulted on a wide range of issues. The procedure varies according to the employer’s circumstances. Here it required a ballot to be held of the relevant employees to elect the appropriate number of information and consultation representatives, within a fixed time limit. Macmillan did not hold a ballot and the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) made a declaration to that effect. Amicus then applied to the EAT for a penalty to be imposed on Macmillan.

The EAT concluded that this was a significant failure because "it must have been plain, reading the legislation, that the relevant provisions were being ignored at almost every stage". No adequate reasons were given for failing to comply with the obligations. In fact two earlier breaches of the ICE regulations by Macmillan had been upheld by the CAC.

The EAT warned that employers must recognise that the ICE regulations confer important rights on workers and must be complied with. The EAT thought it appropriate, in fixing the penalty, to stipulate a sum which, within the limits imposed by legislation (£75,000), would deter others from adopting, what it described as, the wholly cavalier attitude to their obligations that was demonstrated by Macmillan.

Employers who are opposed to the ICE regulations and attempt to delay their implementation for as long as they reasonably can should take careful note of this judgment.