DTI publishes guidelines for fair union ballots

Practical guidance on keeping union recognition ballots fair and above board has been published by the DTI.

Since June 2000, the law has allowed trade unions to be recognised (or derecognised) for collective bargaining purposes, provided the majority of the workforce want them to be.

The Employment Relations Act 2004, which received Royal Assent in September, introduced measures to stop any party using unfair practices – for example, intimidation – during recognition or derecognition ballots organised under the statutory procedure.

The Government is now seeking views on a draft Code of Practice, which is designed to help parties adhere to the new rules.

Employment minister Gerry Sutcliffe said: “The draft Code, issued for consultation, provides practical guidance to employers and unions on reasonable behaviour that will avoid intimidation and other unfair practices.

“The Government recognises that both parties would normally wish to campaign during such balloting periods, and the Code therefore steers the parties towards practices which are consistent with normal, fair campaigning.”

The draft Code also provides new guidance on the employer’s duty to provide the union with reasonable access to the workers involved during the balloting period. This access should be private to the union and would normally be on-site.

The consultation ends on 24 February. The Government intends the Code and the corresponding sections of the 2004 Act to come into effect on 6 April next year.


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