Kendal Hulme, our Head of Operations, provides a legal update on the proposed anti-strike laws including what it involves and how it will have an impact on future strike action.
In the midst of months of Nationwide of Industrial Action from nurses, ambulance workers, teachers, rail workers and postal workers the Government have announced its intention to proceed with its plan to introduce legislation to ensure there are “minimum safety levels” throughout industrial action. The Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill, announced by the Business Department, returned to parliament Monday 30th January for its third reading.
The purpose of the Bill, if it becomes law, is to ensure that during times of Industrial Action services would have adequate enough cover to ensure the disruption did not put lives at “immediate risk”. This means that some union members would be prevented from striking in certain sectors such as the health service, fire, rail, nuclear decommissioning and border security, and education.
The high amount of strikes seen over the past months, and due to continue until Spring, has caused serious disruption to services across the UK. PM Rishi Sunak stated:
“That’s why I have said we will introduce new legislation that restores that balance and crucially protects people’s lives as well as their livelihoods.”
The proposal includes consulting with sectors to agree on a “minimum service level” and what the “adequate coverage” would be to prevent the risk. In sectors other than rail, ambulance, and fire, ministers hope to reach voluntary agreements as to what this minimum service will look like.
Once agreed upon, unions will be bound to the legislation, and risk injunctions and potential dismissal of employees.
Within the proposal, it is suggested that once the minimum service levels are agreed upon, employees should be issued with “work notice” which will outline which employees will be needed to work during the industrial action to ensure the minimum level of service is provided.
These notices require one week’s notice prior to the strike. However, employers and trade unions may agree otherwise. As well as providing the notice period, employers cannot require an unreasonable amount of people to work. Trade union membership can also not be a reason for selection.
Ignoring a work notice could result in the possible dismissal of an employee.
As of January 30th, the Bill has reached its 3rd reading in Parliament. To view details of the bill and its progress through Parliament see attached link.
If you require any advice surrounding the anti-strike bill and how it may affect your business, get in contact with our team of experts today.
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