Terms of reference
A summary of the Retail Forum's purpose.
The Retail Forum (‘the Forum’) is a tripartite social partnership group. It has been established by Welsh Ministers to promote dialogue between the Welsh Government, trade unions and employer representatives and to inform a shared vision for a successful, sustainable and resilient retail sector that offers fair, secure and rewarding work.
The Forum will discuss, provide advice and engage its networks on a range of matters of mutual interest which include:
- informing the development of a retail strategy and consideration of how retail work can become fairer, more secure, safer and better rewarded.
- identifying, promoting and diffusing practices that support fair pay and conditions within the retail sector to help ‘normalise’ those behaviours.
- improving shared understanding of key challenges facing the retail sector including skills, recruitment and retention; automation; decarbonisation and supply chain issues.
Given the breadth of the retail sector and its workforce, the Forum will discuss, agree and prioritise the work-streams around which it will focus its efforts.
Making work fairer, more secure and better for all is a priority agenda for the Welsh Government and the Welsh Government is committed to working in social partnership to advance these aims. The Bevan Foundation report on Experiences in Retail highlighted issues that require urgent attention, but it’s important these are considered within the broader context of the conditions necessary for a sustainable retail sector which can deliver fair work.
In addition, the Welsh Government recognises the importance of a successful, sustainable and resilient retail sector to the Welsh economy and our communities and it is committed to developing a retail strategy with the sector. This context requires regular and proactive engagement with employer and trade union representatives in the retail sector. This Forum is a vehicle for that engagement.
There are wider social partner and stakeholder groups which are discussing matters that are relevant to the future of retail – including in relation to town centre regeneration. This Forum will work with these other groups but not duplicate their work.
As a tripartite Forum, membership will comprise of Welsh Government, social partners representing trade unions and social partners representing employers, as set out below:
- relevant Welsh Government officials
- Wales TUC
- Welsh Retail Consortium
- Chambers Wales
Forum Members will undertake engagement with the part of the sector which they represent, in order to support a broader dialogue (see also Meeting and working methods and Accountability).
In circumstances where an individual cannot attend a particular meeting – it is acceptable for them to offer an appropriate substitute to attend on their behalf.
In addition to the above, non-members can be co-opted to provide expertise to the Forum for a meeting or series of meetings, as appropriate and as determined by the Forum.
The membership will be regularly reviewed by the Forum, to ensure it is relevant and appropriate.
The Forum will be jointly chaired by Welsh Government officials from the Social Partnership and Fair Work Directorate and Economic Policy.
Meeting and working methods
The role of each of the organisations on the Forum and their particular relationships with their members will be respected at all times. This includes recognising that the employer representatives can advise, promote and engage, but they cannot deliver, mandate or secure sector-wide agreements on behalf of their members.
The Forum will initially meet monthly to establish itself and its work programme. The frequency of meetings thereafter will be agreed by Forum members.
A meeting quorum will require the attendance of at least two representatives from each of the Welsh Government, employers and the Trade Unions.
Meetings will be held virtually at least for the foreseeable future. In the event that an ‘in person’ meeting is held at some future point, all travelling and accommodation expenses relating to the Forum meetings are to be met by the member organisations.
In setting and delivering its work programme, the Forum will act in a way which is consistent with and reflects the principles within the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act (2015).
The Welsh Government will service the Forum with a secretariat that will organise meetings, circulate papers and provide a record of discussions and any actions. Papers will be circulated no less than 5 working days in advance of any meeting (in all but the most exceptional of circumstances). The Forum does not have a budget.
Any member may table agenda items for discussion at the Forum’s meetings.
The Forum will review its progress every 6 months to ensure its work programme is still relevant and deliverable and that it is engaging with relevant groups.
The Forum will aim to reach decisions by consensus rather than through voting. Any conflicts of interest will need to be declared at the start of each meeting.
To facilitate openness, discussion at the Forum must be treated in confidence and should not be disclosed without the Forum’s consent. Documentation, including meeting notes may be subject to access to information requests made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Where such requests are received, the Welsh Government's standard Freedom of Information procedures will be followed.
The Forum will, from time to time, provide feedback on its activities to the shadow Social Partnership Council and other groups as appropriate.
The Forum is convened by Welsh Ministers and may seek to make recommendations to them. In addition, individual Forum members are accountable to their own organisations and each will have in place their own governance arrangements in relation to a range of matters, including decision making and information flow.
These terms of reference may be amended, varied, or modified in writing with the agreement of the Forum.
The terms of reference are effective immediately following their agreement by the Forum and will be ongoing until terminated by agreement between the members.