This month the Trade Union Bill received royal assent and became the Trade Union Act 2016, but what does that mean?
The Trade Union Act 2016 includes:-
- Industrial action has to have a ballot turnout of at least 50% to be lawful
- In important public services such as education, health and transport there must also be 40% of members supporting industrial action for it to be classed as legal. The government will provide further detail about what services are included as important services but it is expected to include parts of the fire, health, education, transport, border control and nuclear services.
- If industrial action is agreed then it must be completed within 6 months, or 9 months if the Union and Employer are in agreement. Previously there was no completion date, just the requirement that the action must begin within 4 to 8 weeks of the ballot. This rule still remains.
- The notice period for action has been increased from 7 days to 14 days, unless the employer agrees to less.
- Extending the powers of certification officers.
- Requesting clearer written descriptions of planned action.
- Any picketing must have a clear picket supervisor.
- The government will require public sector employers to publish details including the amount paid for time spent on union activities; however regulations are still being agreed in relation to this.
- Check-off deductions can only be made if the worker pays their subscriptions by other means and the union has reasonably contributed towards the employer’s costs. This will not be implemented until next year.
The Act is not effective yet. Regulations need to be agreed first, however this is expected to happen later this year.