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New employment law regarding Trade Unions; COMMENT.

Byline: Donald MacKinnon Director of Legal Services Law At Work T: 0141 271 5555 E: W:

On May 4 2016, the Trade Union Bill received Royal Assent and became the Trade Union Act 2016. The main points for Employers to be aware of are: Lawful industrial action now requires a minimum of 50 per cent turnout from all of those entitled to vote. Only a majority voting in favour is needed.

The ballot paper must now include a summary of the matters in the trade dispute requiring the strike and the planned industrial action. The aim of this is to allow voters to have a clearer understanding of what they are voting for. If a ballot mandates action, the time limit has been extended from one month to six months. After the period has elapsed, a new ballot will be required for any proposed action.

The notice period for industrial action doubled, from 7 to 14 days.

In a picket line, there must now be an identifiable supervisor.

New union members now have a choice of whether to pay into political funds.

New financial penalties may be imposed against the trade union for breaches of their statutory duties.

The Government has also announced an intention to lift the ban on hiring agency workers during industrial action. Although there may be a considerable impact, the proposal was not included in the Act; therefore we are awaiting further developments on this front.

There has been much political commentary about the Act, both the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly have indicated their strong opposition to the Act.

Whilst they have declared that they will try to challenge and minimise its impact, trade union law is not a devolved matter, so the Act will apply throughout the United Kingdom. There are however fears of alternative protests from unions unable to lawfully strike. Unions have said that they will fight the changes in courts based on human rights grounds.

It is expected that the majority of the provisions will filter in later this year, with some delayed until the start of 2017, dependent on any legal challenges.

June 2016 INSIDER 87

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Publication:Insider Monthly
Date:May 31, 2016
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