Helping you deal with individual disputes, collective disputes and trade unions, to minimise the potential impact of disruptive action

  • Disputes can be stressful and costly for business owners, whether they involve individuals, groups taking collective action or trade unions taking industrial action.
  • Expert legal advice can help you minimise disruption by facilitating negotiations, providing clarity through a predefined dispute procedure or ensuring you follow the correct actions to avoid escalation.
  • Our employment solicitors are very experienced at advising businesses on resolving disputes, dealing with industrial action and helping establish productive relationships with trade unions. We are ready to help you with clear and practical advice.

Are you currently struggling to work alongside a trade union? Are you concerned about a collective dispute? Or do you believe that there is a possibility of industrial action against your business?

Trade Union disputes

Employers and trade unions should work together to ensure employees’ working arrangements operate effectively and for mutual benefit.

The legal area of trade unions is relatively complex, and employers are often unsure about what they can or cannot do. This is where our expert legal advice is invaluable. Contact Moore Barlow Solicitors

What is a collective dispute?

A collective dispute arises when a group of employees collectively raise a dispute with their employer.

You could find yourself facing a dispute with an individual who is a trade union member or a collective dispute, which is a dispute between you and a group of your employees. Collective disputes can be about a number of issues, including:-

  • Employee engagement;
  • Employment termination;
  • Physical working conditions;
  • Allocation of work, resourcing levels or restructuring;
  • Performance levels;
  • Terms and conditions, or duties of employment; and
  • Disciplinary matters.

Collective disputes should ideally be resolved by you and the group of employees working together, but sometimes it is necessary to involve a third party (such as ACAS) to use alternative dispute resolution, such as conciliation, arbitration or mediation.

Seeking legal advice at an early stage can often help you find ways to defuse the situation and arrive at a solution, before your business suffers too much disruption. It can also help to have a collective dispute procedure in place, which provides clarification for both sides.

What is industrial action?

Industrial action refers to actions taken by employees, often as part of a collective dispute, such as strike action or work to rule. Working hours and rest breaks refer to the hours an employee is expected to work and the breaks they are entitled to during this time.

As an employer, you can stop an employee from working or coming back to work during a dispute. This is called a ‘lock-out’. We would advise you to seek legal advice before following a lock-out process, to ensure you are following the correct procedure. This will minimise the chance of the employee bringing a claim.

If an employee takes industrial action, they may well be in breach of their employment contract. This means you may not have to pay them for work they didn’t do while they were taking industrial action. You may also be able to sue the employee for breaking their contract, although this can risk escalating the dispute and is an approach that employers rarely take.

If you would like advice on industrial action, including how best to deal with it or how to calculate the length of service of an employee who has taken industrial action, please contact us. We will be able to give you advice for your specific situation.

How will Moore Barlow support you?

Our employment experts can help explain the law surrounding trade unions, collective disputes and industrial action, to help you feel better informed and more confident about taking action. We can provide background advice, so that you can ask us for support as and when you need it, or by helping you prepare documents and prepare for meetings.

Collective disputes and industrial action often cause employers a great deal of stress. Whether your business is working with a new trade union or you are struggling to establish a productive relationship with the current trade union, our clear and practical advice will help you deal with difficult situations.

We have offices in London, Guildford, Woking, Southampton, Richmond and Lymington. Contact us for more information.