Thought leadership

An innovative new membership organisation to promote and improve employee and workplace relations in the UK was officially launched last night at the House of Commons.

The Employee Relations Institute (ERI) was launched at the House of Commons at an event attended by a senior audience from government, public and private sector organisations and trade unions.

Jo Swinson, Minister for Employment Relations, said: "I am very pleased to announce the official launch of the Employee Relations Institute which will foster good relationships between employees and management.

"A positive workplace environment is good for business. It will help companies attract and retain the most talented people and employers will benefit from more motivated, productive staff. Strong managers also make British business credible for trade and investment.

"This is why Government is enhancing the employment law framework and working to promote culture change."

Attending the event were some of the sector’s leading experts and speakers at the launch included Lord Tom Sawyer, President of the ERI, Andy Cook, Chair of the ERI, Ed Sweeney, Chair of ACAS, Frances O’Grady, General Secretary Designate, Trade Unions Congress and Neil Carberry, Director of Policy, CBI.

Also present were members of the board which consists of leading business people, employers’ representatives and senior trade union officials.  Organisations who have already backed the Institute include BP, RBS, EDF, Pearson, Local Government Association, TUC, ACAS, UNITE the UNION, Prospect, USDAW and UNISON.

Andy Cook, Executive Chair of ERI, said: “With the Employee Relations Institute, we aim to improve the state of engagement of managers and employee representatives. It has been apparent that a fundamental issue surrounding the matter was that practical education was needed to educate management, who are sometimes just thrown in at the deep end without guidance.

“The work of CBI, TUC, ACAS, IPA, CIPD and other academic institutions is very important however, we hope that the Employee Relations Institute will help bind everyone together in a common goal and direction and at the same time use the opportunity to add something different and new.

“All this will help have a positive impact on the UK’s employment environment and business performance, not to mention a direct impact on disputes in the workplace where poor management is the main cause of tribunal cases, for example.”

In partnership with the Bradford University School of Management, the ERI will offer a full education programme, leading to a masters qualification aimed at senior managers, employee representatives and HR professionals, that focuses heavily on the practical and behavioural skills required, backed by relevant theory. This programme will also be available at Certificate and Diploma levels. The programme will start in March 2013, with shorter on-site programmes becoming available from September 2013.

With a strong board of industry experts, the ERI will provide expert advice to its members.  The ERI is looking to recruit founder members – a group of 20 employers who are willing to sign up to the Institute’s minimum standards.

This is the chance for employers to influence a landmark initiative within employee relations and there will be the opportunity to join in consultations on important issues on the development of employee engagement skills in the UK.

For more information about the ERI or about becoming a founder member, please visit or email


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