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Financial Participation

British trade unions have a tradition of being reserved over employee financial participation. Since wage negotiations are generally conducted on a company level, this negative trade union attitude to profit-sharing has remained mainly without effect on a national level. Employee financial participation schemes in Great Britain are mainly introduced on a unilateral basis.


Trade unions played an active role in defining employee share schemes especially in the 1990s when a number of state-run enterprises were privatised. This resulted in them being more positive towards employee share ownership than profit-sharing. Since then the Trade Union Congress - as the most important umbrella organisation – has adopted a more positive attitude towards employee financial participation in general and now welcomes steps giving employees the opportunity to participate in a company’s success. They insist that all employees benefit from such schemes and that the schemes are worked out and introduced with employee and trade union involvement. This change of attitude towards a more benevolent view of employee financial participation had already taken place in a number of member organisations, with some trade unions even taking the initiative in proposing such schemes. Basically, the British trade unions demand that financial participation schemes must be open to all employees of the company. This applies also to part-time employees. The trade unions demand that workers’ participation schemes should be introduced only after consultation with employees’ representatives and must not be a substitute for regular income from employment.1

Wilke, Maack and Partner (2014) Country reports on Financial Participation in Europe. Prepared for www.worker-participation.eu. Reports first published in 2007 and fully updated in 2014.