The Co-Determination in the Workplace Act, known by its Swedish abbreviation MBL, regulates the relationship between employer and employee. The purpose of this act is to improve employee participation by making it possible for staff to get involved in certain issues. This is achieved by the employer informing and negotiating with employee representatives.
SLU has collective bargaining agreements with a number of employees’ organisations: Saco-S (for academics employed by government bodies), Seko (for employees in the service and communication sectors) and ST (OFR/S, for government employees). We are obligated to continually inform and negotiate with these organisations.
When is negotiation a requirement?
Before the employer makes a decision that involves major changes to operations, negotiations must take place. This applies both to major changes to operations in general and major changes to working or employment conditions.
Examples of when negotiation is required:
- major investments
- closing or cutting down on operations (e.g. dismissals)
- appointments to managerial positions
- transfer from one post to another
- changes to working hours or forms of work of importance (such as introducing shift work).
What happens during negotiations?
The employer must initiate negotiations in good time, to allow the employees' organisations the chance to influence the employer’s decision on an issue. Negotiations should be a natural and efficient part of the decision-making process, which is why they must take place before the employer has decided how to act. However, the employer may have to investigate and determine what options are available before the negotiations start.
Once negotiations are concluded, the employer makes a decision. If an agreement cannot be reached during negotiations, the employees' organisations have five working days to request central negotiations. Central negotiations must then take place before the employer can make a decision. Central negotiations are the responsibility of the Division of Human Resources or in some cases the Swedish Agency for Government Employers.
If the employees' organisations do not request central negotiations, the employer may proceed and make a decision after five working days.
All MBL negotiations at SLU are coordinated by the Division of Human Resources. Even if local contacts for employees’ organisations at departments/divisions take part in and are informed of ongoing organisational changes etc., the employer is still obligated to take part in negotiations.
When must the employer inform the employees’ organisations?
According to the Co-Determination in the Workplace Act, employers have an information obligation towards employees' organisations. These should continually be informed of how operations are progressing production-wise and financially, as well as of the guidelines for HR policies.
If the employees' organisations request to review material or investigations in a particular issue, the employer must give them the opportunity to do so.
Negotiations and information at SLU
Managers such as heads of department are responsible for ensuring that the obligation to inform and negotiate is fulfilled. The Division of Human Resources can provide advice and support before and during negotiations with employees' organisations.