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The Trade Union Act 2016 – something for the weekend, sir?

Ian     Holloway
Ian     Holloway

Usually, I will take a piece of news, digest it and analyse it for the UK payroll and HR professions. This is no easy task and I have a great appreciation for anyone that does it successfully. There is little point just replicating information that is publicly available and I try so hard not to do this.


The problem with just copying or repeating information without analysing it is that we are accepting at face value what someone else has written. Maybe that person made a mistake – look at the palaver we had about the implementation of the National Living Wage for example, all caused because many people just took the guidance as gospel without referring to the legislation itself! Although, I do accept that copying information does raise awareness, even if it does not demonstrate an understanding for the topic.


With plenty of coffee in hand, I sat about digesting and analysing the Trade Union Act 2016 and the implications for employers. After a number of hours, having made my notes, I compared this to the act’s explanatory notes. I was amazed to see that I had interpreted the act in the same way as these notes – in fact, the notes may actually have been better!


So, having built a pedestal for myself above, when it comes to the Trade Union Act 2016 and the implications for employers, I know that I could write pages and pages. Although, now I have assured myself that the guidance is correct and interpreted well, what is the point?


I would say, however, that this is a lot of reading, and would suggest employers with trade union ties or trade unions themselves spend a relaxing afternoon reading the explanatory notes. Here are some brief notes to help you decide whether it is applicable to you:


• It applies in Great Britain. Even then, it is worthwhile considering the objections that Wales and Scotland have to the act and their pledges to either repeal parts (Wales) or mitigate the effects on trade unions and members (Scotland).
• This is primary legislation and all of the provisions will be “commenced” by regulations at a later date. This could be October 2016.
• For industrial action to be legal, there must be a 50% ballot turnout. Some public services will require 40% of that 50% to be in favour of industrial action.
• Ballot papers will have to be changed and state clearly the issue in dispute and the type and length of potential industrial action.
• Unions will have to give 14 days’ notice of action to employers rather than the current seven.
• When regulations commence one part of the act, new union members will have to opt in to any part of their union subscription that will go towards political funding. This reverses the current situation, where members have to opt out.
• Facility time in public services will have to be published, with the prospect of a cap being imposed in years to come.
• The check-off (payroll deductions) can still continue, but only after union members have been given the option to pay their subscription another way. Also, unions will have to make “reasonable” payments to public sector employers in recognition of the collection service.


Something for the weekend?

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