The Trade Union Act 2016: an update

Last year we reported on the Trade Union Act 2016 (the “Act”) which received royal assent on 4 May 2016. The Act contains key provisions which apply to unionised work forces and have an increased effect on public services. In the words of the government, the aim of the Act is to ‘ensure strikes can only go ahead as a result of a clear and positive democratic mandate from union members: upholding the ability to strike while reducing disruption to millions of people.’[1] With this aim in mind, commuters that travel on the Southern Rail network might look favourably on the Act’s provisions.

Several of the key provisions of the Act are the requirements that industrial action only ever goes ahead when there has been a ballot turnout of at least 50% and in ‘important public services’ an additional threshold of 40% of support to take industrial action from all eligible members must be met for action to be legal.

Since the Act received royal assent, the government has published 5 sets of draft regulations that define ‘important public services’ for the purpose of the additional 40% threshold. They cover 5 key categories namely; health, fire transport, education and border security.

A number of the provisions of the Act – including those requiring a 50% ballot turnout – are not yet in force. The new draft regulations are however due to come into force on 1 March 2017 or, if later, at the end of the period of 21 days from the day that they are made.

We will continue to update you about when the provisions of the Act are due to come into force, but for the time being if you have any questions regarding the above and how it might affect your organisation please contact a member of our team.