Legislation overview

The main legislation that governs trade union recognition and industrial action is:

  • Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 (TULRCA)
  • Trade Union Reform and Employment Rights Act 1993 (TURERA)
  • Employment Relations Act 1999
  • Employment Relations Act 2004
  • Working Time Regulations 1998 (SI 1998/1833)
  • Trade Union Recognition (Method of Collective Bargaining) Order 2000 (SI 2000/1300)
  • Employment Code of Practice (Access to Workers during Recognition and Derecognition Ballots) Order 2000 (SI 2000/1433)
  • The Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003 (SI 2003/3319)
  • Information and Consultation of Employees Regulations 2004 (SI 2004/3426)
  • Employment Code of Practice (Access and Unfair Practices during Recognition and Derecognition Ballots) Order 2005 (SI 2005/2421)
  • Employment Code of Practice (Industrial Action Ballots and Notice to Employers) Order 2005 (SI 2005/2420)
  • Employment Relations Act 1999 (Blacklists) Regulations 2010 (SI 2010/493)
  • Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act 2014.

The Human Rights Act 1998 gives a legal right of 'freedom of assembly and association' (Article 11). The European Social Charter 1961 also provides a ’right to organise’ to protect the freedoms of workers and a ’right to bargain collectively’ which includes the right to take collective action, including strike action, subject to obligations in such arrangements (Articles 5 and 6).

Useful information can be found on the TUC website, individual union websites and the GOV.UK website.

For information on the consultation obligations relating to redundancy under the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 and the recent changes see our Redundancy collective consultation Q&As.

Q: When is a trade union recognised?

Q: What is 'collective bargaining' and are ‘collective agreements’ incorporated into employees' contracts?

Q: What is the Central Arbitration Committee and who is the Certification Officer?

Q: What are the consequences of statutory trade union recognition?

Q: Can a union be derecognised after it has been granted statutory recognition?

Q: What protection does a worker have who is involved in the promotion of a union for recognition purposes?

Q: Can an employer offer inducements to employees to discourage trade union membership and collective bargaining?

Q: What is industrial action or a strike?

Q: What are the main legal consequences which may apply to industrial action?

Q: What is unofficial industrial action?

Q: What is the definition of a trade dispute?

Q: What action can an employer take against the union if there is a strike?

Q: Can an employer dismiss staff who take part in unofficial industrial action?

Q: Can an employer dismiss staff who take part in official industrial action?

Q: What are the reasonable steps which an employer must take before dismissing staff who take part in official industrial action?

Q: Can an employer recruit temporary workers to do the job of employees called out on an official strike?

Q: How much pay can an employer deduct for one day’s strike?

Q: What happens if an employer refuses to employ or blacklists certain union members because of their union activities?

Q: If an employer does not want to dismiss their employees for taking part in industrial action what other remedies are available?

Q: What is secondary industrial action and is this lawful?

Q: What constitutes lawful picketing?

Q: What consequences arise from a work to rule as a means of industrial action?

Q: Are there any future developments expected in the area of trade union recognition and industrial action?

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