KYOCERA Document Solutions (UK) on Employee representation

Does your business consult and negotiate with employees and their elected representatives in the context of collective bargaining?


KDUK is the UK sales and marketing subsidiary of a Japanese-owned multinational that manufactures office printers, copiers and associated accessories and software, employing approximately 165 people. It follows the corporate philosophy established by its parent company, Kyocera Corporation, which strives to operate in a fair and honourable way and to provide opportunities for the material and intellectual growth of all its employees.

The Kyocera philosophy was conceived by its Japanese founder and, although it is universally applied across all global divisions, it is supported by communication tools that were created for a Japanese audience. As an autonomous subsidiary, KDUK is free to implement the corporate philosophy in its own way and has devised a local version of the philosophy that is more accessible for a western workforce. It has developed a culture model called the 5Cs which describes the values and behaviours that are called for in order to create a workplace that fulfils the promise of the Kyocera philosophy and supports the company purpose. The aim of the 5Cs philosophy is to create an open, equitable and supportive environment where everybody can contribute equally to the shared goals of the business; this underpins KDKU’s commitment to creating a democratic and harmonious workplace in which employees at all levels work together with mutual respect.

The KDUK culture model was developed by a team of employees, working with an external facilitator, rather than handed down from management. The 5Cs are consciousness, communication, commitment, co-operation and courage. Courage is a recent addition to the original set of four, introduced in response to the desire for staff to be bolder in challenging established norms, more ambitious in their personal goals and more outspoken about their ideas and concerns. Open communication is a strong theme across all of the 5Cs and there is an explicit commitment to making KDUK a place where it is safe to speak out and everybody’s view is heard and respected.

The 5Cs model creates a common language for articulating the company’s values and ensuring that employees understand and can practice the behaviours that embed them into the company culture. It was developed by a team of employees, working with an external facilitator, rather than handed down from management. Staff are trained in the 5Cs when they join the business and off-site workshops are held annually to reinforce understanding, removing groups of staff from the business in cross-functional teams so that it does not interrupt service to customers. The workshops include classroom sessions, activity-based learning and business games; there is also a social element. KDUK feels that mutual trust and understanding is enhanced by social interaction and endeavours to provide opportunities for this both inside and outside the workplace; a range of social activities such as table tennis and pool are catered for in the head office building and a thriving social club, which is subsidised, arranges a wide range of out of hours activities to which all staff have equal access.

The extent to which staff embody the values and display the behaviours of the 5Cs is assessed as part of the annual performance development review, and is given equal weight with skills-based evaluation. Strong consideration is given to attitude when recruiting, in recognition of the belief of Dr Inamori, who founded the business, that success is a factor of ability x effort x attitude, with ability and effort represented on a scale from 1-100 and attitude scaled from -100 to +100.

Training needs are reviewed both at personal development reviews and informally at other times; the company is supportive of staff who pursue professional qualifications; it provides paid study leave and contributes to tuition fees under mutually agreed conditions.

Staff are kept informed of the issues affecting the business in several ways. Middle managers attend a monthly operational review meeting at which business challenges are aired and solutions devised, often by assembling temporary project teams to tackle specific issues. The outcomes of these meetings are cascaded down at departmental meetings and feedback invited. There are quarterly town hall meetings at which the directors present the company’s progress against its goals, share future plans and invite questions about the strategy; this, too, is followed by a social gathering. All directors have an open-door policy.

All staff receive a bonus twice per year, based on the company’s achievement of its revenue and profit targets. The award is the same for everybody – one week’s salary each for achievement of half-year revenue and half-year profit, amounting to a potential bonus of four weeks’ salary if the company achieves all its targets. There is also a draw for two prizes of £100 each (net of tax) made every month that the company achieves its sales target. All staff, but not the directors, are included in the draw but are excluded for the remainder of the financial year if they win. This was introduced as the result of a suggestion from a member of staff.

Policies such as commitment to The Living Wage, entitlement to flexible working, payroll giving, salary sacrifice for childcare and other benefits outlined in full elsewhere in KDUK’s answers to the Responsible 100 questions are recognised as having a positive influence on employee engagement. In addition, KDUK endeavours to promote employee engagement as a by-product of other activities – for example, when adopting a policy of sponsoring youth sports teams as part of its community contribution programme, the company decided to invite staff to nominate the teams their children play for. When KDUK moved to new HQ premises in 2013, a team of volunteers from across the business were given the opportunity to work as advisors to the fit-out project, to achieve a working environment that staff would find both comfortable and inspiring.

The company aims to operate in a way that is fair and transparent, so that staff feel fully involved and conflicts are resolved before they become grievances. In line with the principles of the UN Global Compact, of which our parent company is a signatory, our CSR policy upholds freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining, both in our own businesses and in our supply chain. However, KDUK’s industry is not heavily unionised and so far there has been no pressure from staff to recognise a trade union. We are required by our parent company to offer our staff the opportunity to form a works council; so far staff have not felt it necessary to take this up.

There are few formal methods of measuring staff satisfaction, although surveys are conducted after each wave of culture and philosophy training and each IT support intervention, and there is an annual facilities survey to measure satisfaction with the working environment. This feels broadly consistent with the values-led approach to promoting staff engagement, however best practice probably demands that formal analysis of employee satisfaction be conducted, and this is currently under consideration.

Answered at 03:22PM on 23 Monday Nov 2015

Employee representation is the establishment of mechanisms enabling workers and employees to be consulted and collectively bargain on their terms and conditions of employment in the context of legally recognising an independent trade union for this purpose (as per UK legislation). It is also about maintaining good workforce relations and empowering workers and employees.

Whatever the size or type of organisation, people need to engage in meaningful communication with each other. They need to give and take instructions, exchange views and ideas, discuss solutions to problems and consider future developments. However, it is recognised that while there should wherever possible be harmonious relationships between management and staff, there will not always be communality of interest, thus ensuring the need for collective bargaining at the appropriate juncture. Without freedom of association and respect for trade union rights, there can be no employee representation.

Different organisations will have different needs and methods for consultation with staff. Small ones generally have more informal methods, often through direct contact with employees such as a manager walking around and talking to people. Nevertheless, this should not be used as a substitute for or undermining of collective agreements. Larger businesses lend themselves to more formal structures, the nature of which would be a subject for the bargaining agenda. Staff forums may include electronic communication (e-mails, newsletters and online questionnaires etc.), group meetings and one-on-one meetings but, as in smaller firms, none of these tools should be deployed to sabotage existing agreements arising from collective bargaining. A point to consider is that consultation is not briefing, it is dialogue and has specific connotations in workplaces where trade unions are recognised, pursuant to UK and European legislation. According to the ACAS Code of Practice, disclosure of information to trade unions for collective bargaining purposes includes pay and benefits, employee numbers, performance and financial data.

An independent trade union (or labour union) may represent company employees, based on particular industrial sectors or work skills. Alternatively, or in addition, there may be internal company bodies, such as permanent workers councils, worker representatives at Board level, or temporary groups that arise to address a particular issue. Professional associations and institutions, often bodies with self-regulatory legal status, may also represent the interests of their members. However, only the trade union enjoys a legal status commensurate with its independence and as such is indispensable to any notion of employee representation.

Drafting policies and defining specific practices can be a good starting point and foundation for employee communications and consultation. A policy statement can provide an effective means of setting out the values and philosophy of the organisation and would include a commitment to collective bargaining with, as far as possible, a directly-employed workforce, i.e. PAYE employees as opposed to sub-contracted or self- employed workers.

Collective bargaining

'Collective bargaining' is a process by which employers and recognised trade unions seek to reach a negotiated agreement on issues such as pay and terms and conditions of employment. Both employer and trade union take responsibility for fulfilling the bargain. Unions and collective organisation rights are principally governed by The Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 which was amended by the Employment Relations Act 1999 and the Employment Relations Act 2004 though there is separate legislation for Northern Ireland.

Answering YES

All Businesses MUST

State their business sector and number of employees

Explain if, how and why any functions are outsourced or subcontracted

Describe how they consult and collectively bargain as defined above, with employees and their trade union representatives

State if they have a protocol in place to encourage trade union membership

State which trade union or unions they recognise for collective bargaining or explain why they do not recognise an independent trade union

All Businesses MAY

State any philosophy or values which influence their approach to consultation and collective bargaining with the workforce

Explain how they encourage or promote workers to participate in the decision-making process by being union members

Indicate how they assess and/or measure employee perceptions of being listened to/involved in decision-making

Provide examples of how they comply with labour legislation and ILO conventions

Offer an example of how meaningful consultation has had an impact in the organisation and on decision-making

Large and Multinational Corporations (MNCs) MUST

Confirm that they are committed to a mature system of employee relations

Mention if their employee consultation practices differ from one country to another and explain any differences, if they exist

Confirm that they engage in collective bargaining with independent trade unions in all countries of operation, even if legal standards differ in certain countries (unless independent trade unions are illegal)

Confirm that they comply with ILO core conventions relating to freedom of association, collective bargaining and labour rights in addition to complying with local legislation

Answering NO

All Businesses MAY

Mention some of the issues that are the subjects of consultation, and how they have been addressed in the past

State any philosophy or key values which influence their approach to employee representation

Describe any relevant employee communication and consultation, even if they do not meet the specifications for answering YES

Mention any future intentions regarding this issue if next steps are outlined clearly

All Businesses MUST

State their business sector and number of employees

Explain why they do not or cannot answer YES to this question, listing the business reasons, any mitigating circumstances or other reasons that apply


All Businesses MUST

Confirm that they are made up of directors only and have no employees

Outline how their workforces is supplemented by outsourced providers, self-employed contractors or agency workers and explain their rationale for using such arrangements instead of employing workers directly

DON'T KNOW is not a permissible answer to this question

Version 1

To receive a score of 'Excellent'

Employee representation is of key strategic importance for the organisation

Examples of policy and practice which may support the EXCELLENT statement:

  1. Employee representation is a key part of their philosophy
  2. Demonstrates a strategic approach to enabling employee representation
  3. Employee voices always taken into account in decision-making
  4. Actively engages staff in promoting employee representation
  5. Actively measures employee perceptions of being listened to/involved in decision-making
  6. Actively encourages trade union membership
  7. Regularly consults and collectively bargains with employees and their trade union representatives.
  8. Independent trade unions recognised in all countries of operations
  9. Differences in consultation practices across countries are justified
To receive a score of 'Good'

Employee representation is evident in the organisation’s policies and practices

Examples of policy and practice which may support the GOOD statement:

  1. Regularly consults and collectively bargains with employees and their trade union representatives
  2. Demonstrates a commitment to employee representation
  3. A protocol is in place to encourage trade union membership
  4. Employee voices are often considered in decision
  5. Communicates policies on employee representation to employees
  6. Differences in consultation practices across countries are justified
  7. Independent trade unions recognised in all countries of operations
  8. Attempts to measure employee perceptions of being listened to/involved in decision-making
To receive a score of 'Okay'

Takes some measures to practice employee representation or clearly explains why employee representation is a peripheral issue for the business

Examples of policy and practice which may support the OKAY statement:

  1. Company is made up of directors only and has no employees
  2. Employees regularly consulted on important decisions affecting company
  3. Has invited employees in encouraging trade union membership
To receive a score of 'Poor'

Company fails to adopt appropriate and credible levels of employee representation despite arguments and opportunities to do so

Examples of policy and practice which may support the POOR statement:

  1. The organisation acknowledges performance below expectations
  2. Statement of future intent to improve
  3. No evident efforts to practice any employee representation
  4. No consideration of recognising unions
  5. No mature system of employee relations
  6. Company does not recognise unions in some countries of its operations
  7. Company provides little or no justification for outsourcing functions

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