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Employment Relations Act 1999

Trade unions

Section 5: Training

151.Section 5 inserts new sections 70B and 70C into Chapter VA of Part I of the 1992 Act. (Chapter VA is itself inserted into the 1992 Act by section 1 of the Act.) Under new section 70B, if a union is recognised under the procedure set out in Part I of Schedule A1 to the 1992 Act as inserted by Schedule 1 to this Act and the CAC has specified a method for collective bargaining under paragraph 31(3) of Schedule A1 which the employer and union have not agreed should not be legally binding under paragraph 31(5) of the Schedule, the employer must invite representatives of the union to a meeting to:

  • consult on the employer’s policy on training;

  • consult on the employer’s plans for training in the next six months or, if the employer sets a date for the next meeting, in the period before the next meeting; and

  • report on the training undertaken since the previous meeting.

152.This duty applies only in respect of workers within the bargaining unit. The first such meeting must be held within six months of the CAC imposing a method for collective bargaining, and further meetings must be held within six months of the previous meetings. The employer will be obliged to give to the union any information without which it would be impeded in participating in the meeting and which it is in line with good industrial relations practice to provide. This is subject to certain exceptions, such as information which would disclose the identity of individuals without their consent. The information must be provided at least two weeks before the meeting. After the meeting, the union has four weeks in which to make written representations (comments, suggestions or requests) on the training matters discussed at the meeting, which the employer must take into account.

153.New section 70C provides that a union may complain to an employment tribunal that an employer has failed to fulfil the obligations under new section 70B. This failure could, for example, consist of a failure to hold meetings or to provide sufficient information to the union in advance of a meeting. As is usual for employment tribunals, a complaint should be made within three months of the alleged failure. If the tribunal upholds the complaint, it may award compensation to each member of the bargaining unit, up to a maximum of two weeks’ pay. This award is payable to the individual workers, and the union may not take legal action to enforce payment: a worker may take such legal action if necessary.

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