The UK’s leading trade union law firm, Thompsons Solicitors, has echoed the Trades Union Congress’ (TUC) calls for the government to stop ‘dragging its feet’ on electronic voting for industrial action, following recommendations of a trial period made in an official report.

Dubbed by the TUC’s general secretary, Frances O’Grady, as a “missed opportunity”, the report states that electronic voting for industrial action has many “unanswered questions”. Led by former chief fire officer of the London Fire Brigade, Sir Ken Knight, the report argues that trialling electronic voting on non-statutory ballots is a necessary step to evaluate a number of elements before it can be made legal. These include assessing the safety of systems against cyber-attacks and hacking, the effectiveness of voter verification and how e-balloting will affect those with disabilities.

"Electronic balloting doesn't need any more trialling. Its use is already widespread and if it is good enough for political parties, it's good enough for trade union ballots. The government should allow unions to use modern technology to reach their members now."

Iain Birrell
Thompsons Solicitors

In a statement, Ms O’Grady says “union members should have access to the same modern balloting methods as other organisations”, while also highlighting previous examples of successful e-balloting elsewhere, such as the election of the Conservative London mayoral candidate in 2016 and the Labour leadership contests in 2015 and 2016.

Iain Birrell, practice lead of Thompsons Solicitors' trade union law group, said: “Electronic balloting doesn't need any more trialling. Its use is already widespread and if it is good enough for political parties, it's good enough for trade union ballots. The government should allow unions to use modern technology to reach their members now.”

Click to read the full Electronic Balloting Review for industrial action.