Trade Union Act 2016 becomes law

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Following draft trade union regulations, the government has confirmed that the Trade Union Act 2016 will come into force on 1 March 2017. 

A series of modernising reforms are being introduced to ensure strikes can only go ahead as a result of a clear and positive democratic mandate from union members. It will ensure industrial action only ever goes ahead when there has been a ballot turnout of at least 50 per cent. The main provisions of the act are:
  • Increasing to 50 per cent the voting threshold for union ballots turnouts (while retaining the requirement for there to be a simple majority of votes in favour of industrial action) . 
  • Introducing an additional requirement that 40 per cent of all those entitled to vote in the ballot must vote in favour of industrial action in certain public services such as health, education, fire and transport. The following health services are deemed to be important public services:
    • Ambulance service. 
    • Accident and emergency in a hospital.
    • Services which are provided in high-dependency units and intensive care in a hospital. 
    • Psychiatric services provided in a hospital for conditions which require immediate attention in order to prevent serious injury, serious illness or loss of life.
    • Obstetric and midwifery services provided in a hospital for conditions which require immediate attention in order to prevent serious injury, serious illness or loss of life. 
  • Requiring a description of the trade dispute on the voting paper and providing information to union members about the results of the ballot.
  • Introducing measures for unions supervision of picketing. 
  • Introducing changes to the role of the certification officer allowing enforcement powers in relation to reporting requirements on and industrial action and political fund expenditure.
  • Introducing a 12 month transition period for the new members to opt into the political fund element of trade unions subscriptions. 
  • Increase the amount of notice of a strike to be given to an employer to 14 days (two weeks). 
  • Restricting the mandate for industrial action post ballot to 6 months.
The government has decided to retain the check-off arrangements and agreed in principle to amend this proposal to allow the check-off system to remain where there is agreement with the employer to provide check-off and the union meets the administrative cost.

Further information   

Read the full Trade Union Act 2016 on the website.

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