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Hard law, soft edge? Information, consultation and partnership

Michael Doherty (Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland)

Employee Relations

ISSN: 0142-5455

Article publication date: 3 October 2008



The purpose of this paper is to assess whether the transposition of the EU directive on informing and consulting employees is likely to enhance voice and participation rights of Irish employees.


The paper is a literature based critique assessing the reasons for the “voice gaps” the evidence suggests exist in Irish workplaces and analysing the implications of the legal changes brought in by the information and consultation legislation.


The paper argues that the transposition of the EU directive provided a unique opportunity to bolster voice mechanisms in Irish workplaces and “plug” some of the gaps identified in the literature. However, the paper argues this opportunity has been largely squandered, as a result of the Irish Goversment's minimalist approach to “hard” regulation of information and consultation rights in the transposing legislation.

Research limitations/implications

The EU directive is perhaps of most relevance to those interested in the employment relations in the Anglo‐Saxon countries (Ireland and the UK). The findings relate, in particular, to those countries. The paper considers the implications of the transposition, too, in terms of the role of the social partners in promoting voice at work.

Practical implications

Encouraging and developing employee voice arrangements is of great interest to academics and practitioners alike. The paper suggests ways in which legal changes can be used to further these objectives.


The paper assesses the likely public policy outcomes of a specific transposition process.



Doherty, M. (2008), "Hard law, soft edge? Information, consultation and partnership", Employee Relations, Vol. 30 No. 6, pp. 608-622.



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