Trade Union Bill: Proposed amendments - DAC Beachcroft

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Trade Union Bill: Proposed amendments

Published On: 15 April 2016

The government has published a number of amendments being considered at the Report Stage in the House of Lords, marginally softening the impact of the Trade Union Bill.

The facts

The government has put forward several amendments to soften the impact of the Trade Union Bill 2015-16, which is making its way through the House of Lords. The proposed amendments include the following:

  • Ballot papers would only need to set out a "summary" of the dispute rather than a "reasonably detailed indication";
  • Workers would be excluded from the new 40% threshold for ballots in important public services if the union "reasonably believes" that they are not "normally engaged in the provision of important public services" at the time of the ballot;
  • The proposal to increase the notice period for industrial action from 7 to 14 days is to be modified so that a seven-day notice would suffice if the employer agreed;
  • A ballot in favour of industrial action would remain valid for six months or up to nine months if the employer agreed. The Bill's original proposal was that industrial action must not take place more than four months after the ballot;
  • The requirement for picket supervisors to identify themselves by wearing "a badge, armband or other item" would be re-worded as a requirement to wear "something" to identify them. The effect of the wording appears unchanged.

What does this mean for employers?

The amendments are unlikely to appease those on the left and have already been described as "weak" by Labour think tank, The Institute of Employment Rights, which is hoping for further concessions. Key areas of conflict in the Lords debates so far (with strong criticism coming from all sides of the House) have been the abolition of check-off in public services, the restrictions on unions' political funds, and the government's refusal to introduce electronic balloting for industrial action ballots.

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