A Trade Union is a membership-based organisation mainly made up of workers. One of its main objectives must include the regulation of relations between workers and employers or employers’ associations. An employers’ association is a body of employers, generally from the same sector of the economy, whose principal purposes include the regulation of relations between employers in that sector and workers or trade unions. Trade unions have duties and obligations under the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 (TURLCA 1992) and case law.
Changes brought by the Trade Union Act 2016
The Trade Union Bill received Royal Assent on 4th May 2016 to become the Trade Union Act 2016. It commenced on 1st March 2017.
The Act amends the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation Act) Act 1992 (TULRCA 1992)as follows:
- Sections 2 and 3 set out the requirements for minimum ballot thresholds – a 50% turnout in all industrial action ballots, and a 40% support requirement in favour of industrial action for specified important public services in six sectors.
- Section 4 requires an independent review on the delivery of secure methods of electronic balloting in relation to industrial action ballots and for the Secretary of State to publish a response to the review. It also provides for a piloting scheme. Section 4 does not amend legislation but introduces a provision which requires the Secretary of State to commission an independent review into industrial action ballots.
- Sections 5, 6 and 7 set out information requirements relating to industrial action: the information that must be included in the ballot paper; and information to be given to union members and to the Certification Officer following a ballot.
- Sections 8 and 9 specify the arrangements for the timing and duration of industrial action. Section 8 requires two weeks’ notice of any action to be given to an employer unless the union and the employer mutually agree to 7 days’ notice. Section 9 provides that a ballot mandate for industrial action expires after six months or after nine months where there is a mutual agreement between the employer and the union.
- Section 10 sets out requirements on unions for the supervision of picketing.
- Sections 11 and 12 concern political funds. Section 11 provides that persons who join a trade union after commencement shall be required to make an active choice before contributing to a union’s political fund. Section 12 places requirements on unions to include details of expenditure from political funds in the union’s annual return to the Certification Officer;
- Sections 13 and 14 create regulation-making powers in respect of paid time off for trade union duties and activities in the public sector;
- Section 15 restricts the deduction of union subscriptions (“check off”) from wages by relevant public sector employers where:-
- workers do not have the option to pay subscriptions through other means and;
- arrangements have not been made for a union to make reasonable payments to the employer for the making of those deductions.
- there is a regulation making power to specify who is a relevant public sector employer;
Section 27 TULRCA 1992
A union must supply a copy of its rules to any person on request, either free or on payment of a reasonable charge.
Section 28 TULRCA 1992
A union must keep proper accounting records of its transactions, assets and liabilities. It must also establish and maintain a satisfactory system of control over its accounts, cash holdings, receipts and remittances.
Section 32 TULRCA 1992
A union must send an annual return including accounts, auditors’ report, rules and other matters to the Certification Officer.
Section 32(A) TULRCA 1992
A union must send a statement to each of its members within eight weeks of sending its annual return to the Certification Officer. The statement must include the following information;
- Total income and expenditure for the period of the return
- How much of the income consisted of membership payments
- Total income and expenditure of any political fund
- Salary and other benefits provided to members of the executive, the president and the general secretary
Section 33 TULRCA 1992
A union must appoint an auditor to audit the accounts in its annual return
Section 40 TULRCA 1992
A union must arrange for periodic examination of its members’ superannuation scheme by an actuary. The actuary must produce a report.
Employee Representative Guide for non-union workplaces
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GOV.UK: Trade union funds and accounting records
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