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Outsourcing raises complex challenges for the modern workplace

Monday 10 September 2012

Outsourcing is set to raise complex challenges for traditional employment relationships according to workplace experts, Acas.

The past decade has seen a significant growth in organisational restructuring and the use of outsourcing across both the public and private sector. This looks set to continue and businesses will be managing groups of employees with different terms and conditions. Moreover, those employers further down the subcontracting chain are likely to have less control over the terms and conditions of their direct employees.

Speaking at today's Acas fringe event at the TUC. John Taylor, Acas Chief Executive, Paul Nowak Head of Organisation and Services at the TUC and Debra Cadman, HR Director at Capgemini will debate how to adapt employment relations to meet the challenges of this new shape of organisation.

John Taylor, Acas Chief Executive said:

"Our perceptions of the traditional workplace relationship have changed. Employers and HR professionals need to take time to consider the impact of outsourcing on the 'new organisation' and plan ahead so that employment relations is thought about at every level."

Outsourcing can and does impact on job security, contractual terms and conditions, equality, job satisfaction, new skill requirements, HR practices, employee voice and the role of trade unions. And HR itself has been the subject of outsourcing meaning relationships with line managers and the workforce will become more arms length.

John added:

"HR professionals may no longer have the control that they used to.  Employers need to ensure that regular contact between client companies and suppliers is maintained.

"It's vital that employers develop channels for employee voice, so that concerns can be aired early on to tackle potential conflict and consultation  is particularly important where there are business transfers. Line managers will also need the right support as they become the new standard bearers of good employment relations."

The subject of the event follows the publication of the latest Acas workplace 2020 discussion paper, Outsourcing and the fragmentation of employment relations: the challenges ahead co-authored by Ursula Huws, Professor of Labour and Globalisation, University of Hertfordshire Business School and Sarah Podro, Acas Senior Policy Adviser.


Notes to editors

  • The fringe meeting, Outsourcing and the impact on employment relations, will be held in room 8 at the Brighton Centre on Monday 10 September from 12.45 to 2pm. Speakers include:
    • Paul Nowak, Head of Organisation and Services, TUC
    • John Taylor, Chief Executive, Acas
    • Debra Cadman, HR Director, Capgemini
  • Outsourcing and the fragmentation of employment relations: the challenges ahead: This is the last in a series of discussion papers that Acas commissioned asking leading employment and labour relations experts to predict some of the key areas of change in British workplaces over the next decade. You can also read the other discussion papers in the The Future of Workplace Relations series.
  • Acas aims to improve organisations and working life through better employment relations. It provides information, advice, training and a range of services working with employers and employees to prevent or resolve problems and improve performance. It is an independent statutory body governed by a Council consisting of the Acas Chair and employer, trade union and independent members.

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