M&S debacle shows the need for HR input

first_img Comments are closed. M&S debacle shows the need for HR inputOn 18 Apr 2001 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Last week employers in the UKlooked on in disbelief as the story of Marks & Spencer’s withdrawal fromFrance unfolded. Unions, the French legal system and politicians rounded on thecompany, and the judge who ruled M&S acted illegally by not consulting staff,launched an investigation which could send M&S directors to prison for upto a year. It is a far cry fromTrade Secretary Stephen Byers’ call for a review of consultation procedures inFebruary after redundancy announcements at Vauxhall and Corus. In the outcryover the M&S lay-offs unions wasted no time in pointing out how soft the UKGovernment is on multinationals who ignore employment law compared with theircontinental counterparts. The TUC has leapt onthe M&S story to bolster its call for national works councils, tougherrules on European works councils and measures which could force firms toreverse decisions about collective redundancies where they fail to comply withstaff consultation rules. And this is against the backdrop of a European directiveon consultation in the pipeline. If the climate of opinion cools towardsmultinationals, M&S might have a lot more to answer for than upsetting theFrench. Yet this whole messmight have been avoided if there had been input from senior-level HR. At thevery least somebody could have explained the law to the board. There are signsthat M&S has made the classic mistake of making HR a low priority whenshares come under pressure. The strongest evidence for this was when ClaraFreeman, director of personnel and corporate affairs, was removed from theboard last September. Could it be thatM&S is now suffering because it treated HR as a luxury it could only affordwhile the going was good? Previous Article Next Articlelast_img read more