The purpose of this paper is to study how employee representatives in European Works Councils (EWCs) treat confidential information and how such strategies might improve the EWC functioning.
Building on interviews of several case studies of EWCs, this paper brings together insights from industrial relations and occupational psychology literature.
The results show that through actively challenging the management, an EWC can reduce the amount of information labelled as confidential and become freer to communicate with their rank and file. Actively challenging management, however, does not seem to impact the openness of the management to give early and complete information.
The paper is based on several case studies, which limits the generalisability of the findings. The results, however, indicate that research is required on how challenging confidentiality can incite managements to provide earlier information.
The research show clearly the potential but also limitations for employee representatives in actively challenging the management over what information is confidential.
This study studies a universally difficult topic for employee representatives: how to handle confidential information. The findings show that EWCs have little levers to force management to provide early information. For this, more structural change is needed.
This study is the first to focus exclusively on the issue of confidentiality in EWCs. This is a central concern for employee representatives, but research, until now, has not given much insight in which strategies work.
Meylemans, L. and De Spiegelaere, S. (2019), "What is said in European Works Councils stays there: Confidentiality and how to cope with it", Employee Relations, Vol. 41 No. 6, pp. 1398-1418. https://doi.org/10.1108/ER-05-2018-0148Download as .RIS
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