According to the government’s own impact assessment, the Trade Union Bill will cost trade unions many millions of pounds to implement.

The assessment, published last week, estimates that:

  • introducing a 50 per cent turnout threshold for a ballot prior to industrial action will incur one-off transition costs for unions in the range of £525,000 to cover familiarisation and legal fees
  • changing balloting rules will incur a one-off transition cost of £543,000; plus an ongoing annual cost of £18,000 for reporting details of industrial action undertaken in unions’ annual reports to the Certification Officer
  • changes to the picketing code of conduct is likely to result in expected transition costs of £525k (again to cover familiarisation and legal fees)
  • reforming political funds so that members have to opt-in will result in transition costs of £100,000; plus £3,000 for familiarisation fees for the new requirements for reporting; legal costs of £170,000; postage costs of £1.3 million just after the start of the policy and again in five years’ time
  • cost of the return of written notices of £1.5 million again at the start of the policy and every five years along with costs for postage materials of £228,000 and other administration costs
  • reforming the role of the Certification Officer will cost £1,079,000

In addition to these charges, the government has separately assessed the cost of other changes. These estimate that:

  • prohibiting public sector employers from providing a check off service mean that unions will face a one-off familiarisation and transition cost of £150,000 and ongoing costs of direct debit charges of £4.4 million per annum
  • trade union members will face a one-off cost of £3.1million as a result of switching to other payment methods for their subscriptions.

In all, the TUC has estimated that the one-off costs facing trade unions will be in the region of £3,100,000 and cumulative costs over the next five years of £26,267,000.

Neil Todd of Thompsons Solicitors commented “As Thompsons Solicitors has consistently stressed the Trade Bill is unlawful, unworkable and oppressive in nature and should not be introduced. The government’s own impact assessment now highlights the vast costs for trade unions in seeking to comply with the proposed new legislation. The bill is unnecessary and appears be politically motivated. One suspects the Government is only too aware of the considerable financial pressures that will be imposed on trade unions if the bill is implemented”.

To access the Trade Union Bill impact assessment, go to:

To access the impact assessment on prohibiting the deduction of union subscriptions from wages in the public sector, go to: