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The Trade Union Bill received Royal Assent on 4th May 2016 to become the Trade Union Act 2016 (the Act). It commenced on 1st March 2017. The Act amends the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation Act) Act 1992 (TULRCA 1992)as follows:
The Act amends industrial action ballot requirements in sections 226 to 234 TULRCA 1992 . Currently, section 226 of the 1992 Act requires a simple majority for a ballot conducted by a trade union for industrial action to be successful. There are no requirements for any level of turnout. This section introduces a new requirement that in all ballots for industrial action, at least 50% of the trade union members entitled to vote must do so in order for the ballot to be valid. Whether or not the ballot is successful and creates a mandate for industrial action is unaffected: a simple majority (i.e. more than half) of the votes cast must be in favour of industrial action in order for action to go ahead.
The Act now imposes a 50% turnout requirement in all ballots for industrial action. In addition, industrial action in ‘important public services’ will require the support of at least 40% of all those eligible to vote. Six sectors are identified as ‘important public services’ – health, education of those under 17, fire, transport, nuclear decommissioning and border security. Detailed provisions will be supplied in secondary legislation.
The Act amends industrial action notice requirements in sections 234A to 235 TULRCA 1992;Unions will be required to provide 14 days’ notice of any strike action (or seven days’ notice, if the employer agrees to this).
Provisions to repeal the ban on the use of agency workers to fill in for striking workers are not in the Act; they were due to be introduced in secondary legislation, but there has been no update on when this will be.
The Act amends political funds requirements in sections 71 to 96 TULRCA 1992;
The process for payment of trade union subscriptions will be amended, with the Act introducing a requirement for new union members to be offered an active choice of whether to pay into a union’s political fund and provided with information on opting out from such contributions on an annual basis.
For Employers in the public sector (and some private sector Employers that provide public services), ‘check-off’ (i.e. the deduction of trade union membership subscriptions via payroll) will only be permitted if the union contributes to the cost of administering the system.
The Act amends facility time requirements in sections 168 to 173 TULRCA 1992;
A requirement has been introduced for Employers in the public sector (and some private sector Employers that provide public services) to publish information on ‘facility time’, such as the amount spent on paid time off for union duties and activities and the amount of time taken up by those duties and activities. Secondary legislation will identify which Employers fall into this requirement and what information they will be required to publish. The Act also provides for the possibility of further regulations that would allow Ministers to impose caps on facility time at a particular Employer if the amount and cost of facility time is a cause for concern.
The Act amends the provisions relating to the recognition of peaceful picketing as a lawful activity in sections 219 to 220 TULRCA;
The Act gives statutory force to certain parts of the current Code of Practice on Picketing , such as the requirement to appoint a picket supervisor . It also introduces new powers for the Certification Officer to investigate and take enforcement action where a union breaches its statutory duties.
Legislation – Trade Union Act 2016
Practical Law Article – Trade Union Act 2016: oppressive measures or neutralised reform?
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