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Employment Relations Act 1999

Notices to employers of industrial action ballots and the taking of industrial action

130.If a trade union decides to call on its members to take or continue industrial action, it has no immunity from legal liability unless it holds a properly conducted secret ballot in advance of the proposed action. Unions are required under the 1992 Act to give to the employers concerned advance notice in writing both of the ballot and of any official industrial action which may result. The ballot notice must describe, so that their employer can readily ascertain them, the employees who it is reasonable for the union to believe will be entitled to vote. Likewise, the notice of official industrial action must describe, so that their employer can readily ascertain them, the employees the union intends should take part in the action. The current law has been interpreted by the courts (most notably, in the case Blackpool and the Fylde College v National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education [1994] ICR, 648 Court of Appeal and 982 House of Lords) as requiring the union in certain circumstances to give to the employer the names of those employees which it is balloting or calling upon to take industrial action.

131.Paragraph 3 amends the provisions of the 1992 Act which provide for a notice to be issued in advance of the ballot. It amends section 226A(2) to redefine the purpose for which the notice is required as being to enable the employer to make plans to deal with the consequences of any industrial action and to provide information to those employees who are being balloted. Sub-paragraph (3) inserts a new section 226A(3A) which sets out the type of information which is to be included in the notice in order to satisfy the new section 226A(2). It has the effect that a union is required to provide only information in its possession and that it is not required to name the employees concerned.

132.Paragraphs 11(1) to 11(3) amend section 234A of the 1992 Act, which provides for a notice to be issued in advance of official industrial action, in similar terms.

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