Scrase Law Employment Solicitors

Labour’s commitments on trade union rights

On 13 June 2024, Labour published its manifesto for the 2024 General Election, ‘Change’.   The manifesto confirms that, if elected, Labour “will stop the chaos and turn the page to create a partnership between business and trade unions, by implementing ‘Labour’s Plan to Make Work Pay: Delivering a New Deal for Working People’ in full – introducing legislation within 100 days”.

The Plan to Make Work Pay includes a number of proposed reforms to employment law, which could potentially have a significant impact on employers. We have summarised some of the key proposals in a previous post here. Amongst the proposals, there is an emphasis on the strengthening of workers’ rights, including ‘by empowering workers to organise collectively through trade unions’. In our separate posts, we have set out Labour’s key commitments on workers’ rights and equality. In this post, we look at the key proposals on rights in relation to trade unions.

Labour and trade union rights

They key proposals include:

Modernising legislation, ‘removing unnecessary restrictions on trade union activities’. This will include repealing legislation introduced by the current Government introducing restrictions on the organisation of lawful industrial action, including minimum service levels in public sector strikes.

Changes to rules on balloting, allowing balloting by electronic means.  Currently, statutory trade union ballots must be conducted by post.

Simplifying the process of statutory recognition, by reducing thresholds.  Labour will remove the requirement that unions must show that at least 50% of workers are likely to support their claim for recognition before the process for statutory recognition has begun.  In addition, unions will only be required to win a simple majority to win a workers’ vote on recognition.  Currently, recognition must be supported by 40% of those entitled to vote.

Introducing a new right of access to workplaces.  This will involve introducing rights for trade unions to access workplaces ‘in a regulated and responsible manner’ for recruitment and organising purposes’.  This will allow union officials to meet, represent, recruit and organise members within the workplace, provided that they give appropriate notice and comply with reasonable requests of the employer.  This will potentially be a significant change for employers that do not currently recognise a trade union.  Currently, there is no right for unions to meet or organise in their workplace.

Informing employees of their rights.  There will be a new duty on employers to inform all new employees of the right to join a union, and to inform all staff of this on a regular basis.  There will be a requirement to include this as part of the written statement of particulars issued to all new workers.

Strengthening protection.  There will be new rights and protections for trade union representatives to undertake their work, strengthening protections for trade union representatives against unfair dismissal.  There is no further detail in the manifesto about what that would involve.  There will also be protection for union members from intimidation, harassment, threats and blacklisting.  Labour will also introduce statutory rights for trade union equality representatives in order to strengthen equality at work.

Updating rules on blacklisting.  This will include updating regulations to outlaw the use of predictive technologies for blacklisting.

Comment

Employers may have many questions about what these changes will involve and how they will impact their workplaces.  Some of the proposed changes to employment law set out in the manifesto are capable of being introduced relatively quickly.  Others may take longer to review and implement.  Labour confirms in the manifesto that, if elected, it will “consult fully with businesses, workers, and civil society on how to put our plans into practice before legislation is passed.” 

25 June 2024

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©2024 SCRASE LAW LTD. THIS POST IS FOR GENERAL INFORMATION ONLY AND IS NOT ADVICE. YOU ARE RECOMMENDED TO SEEK PROFESSIONAL ADVICE BEFORE TAKING ANY ACTION ON THE BASIS OF THIS POST