Blacklisting trade union members will be banned under new government regulations.
The move follows evidence that a number of employers in the construction sector had been unlawfully vetting workers.
In March, the Information Commissioner reported that 40 construction companies had subscribed to a database used to vet construction workers, which has now been closed under data protection law. Ian Kerr, the individual who operated the database, was fined £5,000 for committing a criminal offence under data protection law.
Employment relations minister Lord Young said: “Blacklisting someone because they are a member of a trade union is totally unacceptable. There is already legal protection against the misuse of people’s personal details. We will now strengthen the law by introducing new regulations to outlaw the compilation, dissemination and use of blacklists.”
The regulations will make it unlawful for organisations to refuse employment or sack individuals as a result of appearing on a blacklist; make it unlawful for employment agencies to refuse to provide a service on the basis of appearing on a blacklist; and enable individuals or unions to pursue compensation or solicit action against those who compile, distribute or use blacklists.
The government said it planned to table regulations in Parliament as soon as possible with them likely to come into effect early next year.
Alan Ritchie, general secretary of construction union Ucatt, said: “Blacklisting is a disgraceful, underhand practice. Until early this year most major construction companies were involved in the blacklisting of workers. The introductions of laws, which are designed to prevent blacklisting, are welcome and long overdue.”