Trade Unions and Individual Rights
Detriment and trade union membership (Section 2 and Schedule 2)
In Force - 25 October 1999
Trade union members will now be protected against "being subjected to any detriment" to penalise them for trade union membership or activities, instead of protection against "action short of dismissal taken against him as an individual". The legislation now gives workers protection against an employer's deliberate failure to act, for example by withholding benefits which are available to non-unionists.
Detriment and collective bargaining (Section 17)
The government will have the power to make regulations to protect workers against dismissal or detriment for refusing to enter into personal contracts and thus give up the benefits of collective bargaining. This is directed at the effect of the amendments introduced by the Conservatives after the Wilson and Palmer case in the Appeal Court, but the government has decided not to repeal those amendments. This will restrict the effectiveness of any regulations.
A Conservative amendment which the government accepted has greatly undermined the protection any regulations can give. The amendment says that paying extra pay or a bonus to those who give up collective bargaining does not amount to a detriment for those who refuse to give up their rights. The only restriction to the amendment is that the contract of employment must not inhibit the workers from being a union member and the extra pay or bonus must relate to services provided under the contract. These provisions mean that if regulations are passed, they may make matters worse for trade union members.
The government has not yet set a date for consultation on any regulations on this issue.
Detriment and recognition (Section 6 and schedule 1 paragraphs 156-165)
In Force - 6 June 2000
Workers are now protected against dismissal or detriment for campaigning or voting for or against recognition under the new trade union recognition procedure. The contract of employment cannot override these rights, but the protection is confined to cases where the worker did not act unreasonably.
The legislation gives workers a right to make an emergency application for interim relief if dismissed on those grounds, adopting the same procedure as for dismissals on trade union grounds. Workers are also given protection against selection for redundancy on recognition grounds.
Blacklists (Section 3)
In Force - Power to make Regulations - 25 October 1999
The Act grants the power to make regulations to prohibit the compilation of lists of trade union members and activists for use by employers and employment agencies to discriminate against workers in recruitment or other treatment. This is intended to outlaw so-called "blacklists" of the type previously operated by the Economic League.
The sanctions may include criminal penalties or remedies for trade union members in the courts or tribunals. The government has not yet set a date for consultation on any regulations on this issue.