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New Consultation Documents

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Two new consultation documents have been issued in the last week...

1. Review of Employment Relations Act 1999

When the Act was passed, a review was promised after three years. This is it.

The DTI has undertaken a review and finds that the union recognition procedure is proceeding smoothly. However, the DTI is considering changing some discrete items, namely:
• clarifying the 'right to be accompanied' in disciplinary and grievance procedures, to make it clearer exactly when somebody has the right to a representative, and enabling a right to appeal ET decisions to the EAT when this right is breached;
• establishing a legal right for workers to access their union's services;
• allowing postal voting on union recognition votes
and various other 'tweaking' amendments.

Notably, the DTI has stated it will not be reviewing:
• the rules governing automatic union recognition where the majority of employees are union members;
• the 40% threshold for statutory recognition ballots;
• the 'small employer' exemption (under 21 employees) for automatic union recognition;
• the eight week protected period during which striking workers cannot be dismissed (although it is considering excluding 'lock-out' days from the 8 week period)
Consultation ends on 22nd May 2003.

2. Consultation of Prohibiting Blacklisting of Trade Union Members

Section 3 of the 1999 Act contains a power enabling the Secretary of State to introduce regulations prohibiting the compilation or use of trade union blacklists (i.e. a list which contains details of members of trade unions, or of trade union activists)

The DTI has stated that, whilst it does not intend to introduce such Regulations now, it is consulting on the form of proposed Regulations so that they can be introduced swiftly should the need ever arise.

The draft Regulations render it unlawful to compile, sell, supply or use a blacklist which has been compiled with a view to it being used by employers to discriminate in relation to the recruitment or retention of workers.

Consultation ends on 22nd May 2003.