A number of provisions of the Trade Union Act 2016 are coming into force on 1st March 2017.
Strikes and industrial action have been a hot topic recently. Post Office workers, baggage handlers and check-in staff at airports and train workers have all staged walkouts in the last few months, causing widespread media coverage and grumbling and dissatisfaction from those trying to use their services.
In brief, the most notable provisions coming into effect are:
New ballot thresholds for industrial action
Currently the law only requires a simple majority for a ballot for industrial action to be successful, but it does not set out the turnout. Under this Act, at least 50% of eligible members must turn out for an industrial action ballot, with a majority being in favour of industrial action. Additionally, in the event that the industrial action affects important public services, 40% of all those entitled to vote must vote in favour.
Employers must be given two weeks’ notice of industrial action, rather than the current 7 days.
In order for picketing to be lawful, the Union must appoint a “picket supervisor”. This supervisor must be an official or other member of the Union who is familiar with the provisions of the Code of Practice of Picketing.
Restrict the mandate for strike action
Currently, industrial action needs be called within 4 weeks of the date of the ballot (8 weeks if this has been agreed by the trade union and employer). As long as this occurs, there is no deadline on how long the ballot remains live.
This new Act says that that ballot mandates will expire after 6 months (this can be extended by a further 3 months with the agreement of the employer). After these deadlines have expired, a new ballot will be required.
The Act also sets out information that needs to be on the ballot paper, given to union members about the result and provided to the Certification Officer.
To find out more about these provisions and how they affect your business or organisation, call our Employment Law Advisers for easy-to-follow advice and guidance.