1st March 2017

Trade Union Act 2016

Today (1st March 2017) the main provisions of the Trade Union Act 2016 have come into force. Some of the main changes are highlighted below.

Increase in ballot thresholds

For strike or industrial action to be lawful from 1st March 2017, at least 50% of all eligible members must have voted, in addition to the existing requirement that a majority of those who responded are in favour of the action.

An example is given by the explanatory notes as follows:-

Where 1,000 junior members constitute the bargaining unit affected by the dispute, this clause means that at least 500 of those members would need to vote in order for the ballot to be valid.  If 500 have voted then a simple majority of them would need to vote in favour in order for the ballot to lead to industrial action: that would be 251 members.  If all 1000 had voted, 501 would need to vote in favour.

For ballots of workers engaged in “important public services”, at least 40% of those entitled to vote must have voted in favour of the election, as well as the requirement that at least 50% of all eligible members must have voted.

Information Requirements

There are to be new requirements regarding:

  • Information that must be included on the ballot paper;
  • Information that must be given to the Union members about the result of the ballot; and
  • Information that must be given to the Certification Office

Supervising of Picketing

The Act will also set out extra responsibilities on the Union to supervise picketing.  In addition to ensuring that picketing is lawful, the Union must appoint a person to supervise the picketing. The Union or picket supervisor must take reasonable steps to tell the police the picket supervisor’s name, where the picketing will be taking place and how to contact the picket supervisor.

On 24 February 2017 BEIS published the final versions of the Code of Practice: Picketing and Code of Practice: Industrial action ballots and notice to employers.

The above changes, as well as others, are a result of the Conservative parties’ manifesto in May 2015 which hoped to bring in and end to “disruptive and democratic strike actions”.  Employers dealing with trade unions should be aware of these changes coming into force.

N.B. Please note that the above information is a guide only and does not constitute legal advice. We recommend seeking specialist legal advice on your own particular circumstances