HM Insights

Key changes brought in by The Trade Union Act 2016

The Trade Union Bill has gained Royal Assent though the commencement date is yet to be confirmed. The Conservative Party manifesto heralded the Act as bringing an end to disruptive and undemocratic strike action. Trade unions, on the other hand, are concerned that the Act brings further complexity to the balloting process and erosion of the circumstances in which industrial action will be protected from legal challenge.

Trade Union Act Law Strike Employers

What are the key changes?

Ballot Thresholds will increase

Under the current provision, industrial action must follow a majority ballot of 50% of those who responded. However, under the new laws, as well as a majority being needed at ballot, at least 50% of all members capable of voting must have voted in the ballot.

Another Ballot threshold increase for 'important public services'

Those involved in 'important public services' will only be able to take industrial action if, in addition to the turnout requirement, at least 40% of those members entitled to vote have voted in favour of the action. This is a significantly higher hurdle than in the past.

Who is covered by important public services? The draft regulations will define exactly what this covers in time but will include, non-exhaustively, workers in the health services, education of those under 17, fire services, transport services and border security.

Balloting Information

The balloting papers under the new act must include a summary of the matters in dispute to which the industrial action relates. It must also indicate the type of industrial action to be proposed and the period of time which the action is meant to take place.

Notice to Employer

The minimum period of notice is now 14 days, unless the employer agrees to 7 days, to inform the employer of the ballot result.

Ballots can expire

Industrial Action must be taken within six months of the ballot result. If this period expires, a fresh ballot would be required. 

Pickets must be supervised, trained and clearly identified.

The changes will be a significant adjustment for trade unions.

Get in touch

For any advice regarding the above, do not hesitate to get in contact with a member of our employment team.


The small print: This blog is for information purposes only and should not be construed in any way as providing legal advice.