A fair and open election

To make sure that your employees get their choice of representative, the election needs to be as open as possible and fair for all involved. To make your election arrangements fair, practical and accessible, make sure that:

  • All those who can stand as a candidate, and those able to vote, can do so without being intimidated or penalised. Encourage and motivate employees to get involved by letting them know how important it is for you both to have employee input.
  • Votes can be cast anonymously so employees can vote for who they really want to represent them. This also makes it less intimidating for employees who may not feel comfortable voting publicly, for example by a show of hands.
  • Ballot papers are not tampered with at any stage, for instance they could all be protected with serial numbers. This means that the results are valid and fair so the outcome is more likely to be accepted by those who voted.
  • Each of the employees to be represented has an opportunity to vote without any disadvantage to themselves or their chosen candidate. Consider different methods of balloting, for example, postal ballots if it allows a more mobile or widely spread workforce to participate. You should also let employees have enough notice so they can make time to vote if, for instance, they will have to go to a particular place on a specific day to make their vote.
  • The result is determined by the accurately counted number of votes cast for each candidate. You should try to have independent people counting the votes. For instance, you could have employee volunteers from another constituency count the votes or an independent organisation. There should also be a process to check the accuracy of the count with all ballot papers accounted for.
  • The result is communicated with the number of votes cast for each candidate as soon as possible to all candidates and all employees to be represented. How you let people know will vary from a notice in the relevant workplace to a global e-mail or dedicated intranet page. You should choose a method appropriate for your business, so that your employees know who their elected representative is.

One way of ensuring that an election is fair and open is to let an independent organisation run it for you. They can provide independent scrutiny so your employees have confidence in participating and in the result.

Once they have been elected, your employee representatives should be given the necessary time, support, training and facilities to become effective in their role. See What do workforce-elected health and safety representatives do?

More about elections

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