The government has published a new Trade Union Bill which, if it becomes law, will reform various aspects of the law on industrial action and trade union obligations and activities. The proposed reforms focus on various areas, including increasing ballot thresholds, extending the notice to be given to employers before industrial action occurs, and stricter rules on arrangements for picketing.
The key proposals in the Bill include:
- At least 50% of members eligible to vote must vote in any ballot relating to proposed industrial action before that industrial action can go ahead.
- Amending the definition of ‘voting’ so that the number of people voting includes those who return spoiled or otherwise invalid ballot papers.
- For workers in ‘important public services’ (which may include health services; schools with pupils aged 17 or under; fire services; transport services; decommissioning of nuclear instillations and management of radioactive waste and spent fuel; and border security), a change to the ballot threshold is proposed, providing that at least 40% of eligible members must vote in favour of industrial action before it can take place.
- Increasing the notice to be given to employers of industrial action from 7 to 14 days.
- Introducing a new four-month time limit, after a ballot, in which strike action must take place.
- Introducing detailed requirements for unions to supervise any picketing which takes place.
- Imposing obligations on trade unions to publish information about what industrial action has been taken, its political expenditure and its annual returns.
The consultation period on the proposals will close on 9 September 2015. You can find out more about the Bill here: