Good Business Charter employee representation feature image

Employee representation

The GBC requires all employers to engage with worker representatives and to ensure there is a voice that represents employees around the boardroom table.

What it is

Employee representation may be defined as the right of employees to seek a union or individual to represent them for the purpose of negotiating with management on such issues as wages, hours, benefits and working conditions.

More widely, it is a commitment to engage with worker representatives, including trade unionists where they are present, and to ensuring there is a structure in place to ensure issues can be raised by employees and that those issues are escalated to senior management. We believe good businesses will have some type of employee forum to facilitate this, along with regular employee satisfaction surveys.

Why it matters

Meaningful consultation and engagement with workers encourages organisations to take a long term approach to decision making. Good businesses operate through consultation, and mutual agreement with workforce directly or via representatives.

Where union reps are present in the workforce regular engagement is important and beneficial. The workers voice regularly represented at the company’s board gives better insight to the business and helps challenge conventional thinking.


We believe it is very important to have an open culture where people are encouraged to speak out.  Aside from consultation and engagement with workers, we would also expect organisations of all sizes to have a mechanism for whistle-blowing where, if employees see a danger, risk, malpractice or wrongdoing that affects others, they are clearly informed on how to report that internally or externally.  This mechanism should include protection for whistleblowers from reprisals.


To draw out a company’s commitment to employee representation we will ask the following questions:

1. Do you or will you commit to have a forum or similar mechanism where every employee can have input?  This can be as simple as an employee suggestion scheme or Intranet.  

2. Is there a structure or will you commit to putting a structure in place to ensure issues from the employee forum are escalated to senior management?

3. Do you or will you circulate an annual or biennial employee satisfaction survey to which the results are reviewed by the board?

4. Where trade unions are recognised in your organisation, do you agree to meet with them at least annually to discuss business performance and strategy and to attempt to ensure that issues that have been raised by them have been adequately addressed to the best of your ability?

5. Where union representatives are present in the workforce, do you commit to regular engagement, which we think is important and beneficial?


If you are concerned that you will not be able to answer these questions but believe that your business or charity practices follow the spirit of this component, please consult with us so that we can make a judgement on whether we believe you meet the requirements of the component.  We are really keen to have organisations of all sizes and from all types of industries and sectors joining the Good Business Charter.  These are standard questions and for some organisations there may be questions that are just not relevant or too onerous.  We want to hear from you if you feel that is the case and we will take a sympathetic view. 

Equally, companies with a smaller number of employees may feel that the wording of the questions is rather technical for the way they operate.  We do not want to exclude anyone behaving responsibly just because they feel this has not been designed with their organisation’s size or industry in mind.  We encourage you to apply the questions to your own unique setting and if in doubt, do contact us to explain the way in which you believe in your own way that you meet this component so that together we can consider whether it is sufficient or what else may be necessary to receive GBC accreditation.

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