Royal Assent for the Trade Union Bill

Date Added 06.05.16

In July 2015 the Government published the Trade Union Bill which introduced with a number of reforms to ensure trade union strikes only take place as a result of a clear and democratic mandate from union members. When the bill was introduced, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) commented that it was an ‘unnecessary attack’ on worker’s rights.

However, the Trade Union Bill received royal assent on the 4th May and has become the Trade Union Act. The main provisions under the new legislation include:-

(1) The requirement for at least 50% turnout in votes for industrial action in order for a strike ballot to be valid. This is a brand new requirement, as there is currently no minimum level of turnout requirement. The change will mean that if there are 1000 union members entitled to vote in a ballot then at least 500 of them must actually vote in order for the trade union to have statutory immunity for tortious liability.

(2) An additional threshold of 40% of support to take industrial action from all eligible members in certain public services (including transport, health and education) must be met for action to be legal. The results from the Government consultation on this provision stated that guidance will be issued to clarify which workers were expected to be captured by each of the public services listed under the provision.

(3) Setting a 6 month time limit for industrial action to take place which will mean that trade union mandates will always be up to date.

(4) The requirement of a clearer description of the trade dispute and the planned industrial action on the ballot paper. The ballot paper must indicate the issues of which the action relates; and specify the types of industrial action, short of a strike, that are proposed; and also indicate when the industrial action is expected to take place.

(5) Creating a transparent process for trade union subscriptions that will allow new members to make an active choice of paying into political funds. All members of the union must be notified of their right to be exempt and how they can exercise their right of exemption from contributing to the union’s political fund.

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Tollers’ Employment Law Team are here to help should you have any queries regarding this article, do not hesitate to contact us on 01604 258558. The Act will be bought into effect in due course and the practical impact of these new provisions will soon take their effect.

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