Trade Unions & Works Councils
Our Trade Union and Collective Rights team advises employers on all aspects of industrial relations and collective employment law.
Our team works with employers across all sectors to manage their engagement with trade unions and works councils. It has particular experience in advising on engaging with unions in the context of collective consultation exercises, union recognition applications and industrial action. It also advises on overlaps between individual and collective rights in areas such as union blacklisting, unlawful inducements relating to collective bargaining and claims for detriment or dismissal based on trade union duties or activities.
Proactive industrial relations strategies help employers avoid industrial disputes. Disputes are nevertheless sometimes unavoidable. Our team has experience of successfully defending our clients’ interests in the Central Arbitration Committee, Employment Tribunal, Employment Appeal Tribunal, High Court and Court of Appeal in such circumstances.
Our team develops proactive industrial relations strategies for businesses that need to engage in collective consultation. These take into account both legal and commercial considerations, and wider issues such as unions’ leverage campaign tactics. Its recent experience includes advising employers with heavily unionised workforces on the closure of their defined benefit pension schemes, the closure of operations at some or all of their sites in the UK and the implementation of new terms and conditions of employment by way of “fire and rehire” exercises.
For further information, please see our guides on collective redundancies, TUPE and information and consultation under the Information and Consultation of Employees Regulations 2004.
Trade Union Recognition
Our team regularly negotiates, renegotiates and advises on union recognition agreements. It also has significant experience in defending statutory recognition requests. Its experience of this includes appearing in arbitration proceedings at ACAS, acting in disputes before the Central Arbitration Committee, and representing clients in the higher courts.
For further information, please see our guide on trade union recognition.
Proactive industrial relations strategies help employers avoid industrial action. Strikes and industrial action short of a strike are nevertheless sometimes unavoidable. Our team advises on all aspects of industrial action including union balloting, picketing, the withholding of pay, the use of agency workers, responding to unions’ leverage campaign tactics, and the strategic considerations involved in deciding whether to seek a strike injunction and applying for it.
For further information, please see our guide on industrial action.
Retained EU law bill: our proposals for employment law reform15 March 2023
The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill could have sweeping effects on UK employment law. With a hard deadline of 31 December 2023, quick decisions about reforms will be needed. We’ve drawn up a list of the EU-based employment laws we’d like to see changed.
New Bill to mandate minimum service levels during public service strikes12 January 2023
Faced by entrenched pay disputes across the UK public sector and railway network, the government is proposing to expand and simplify its previously-announced reforms and introduce minimum service levels during strikes across a range of public services.
What’s happening in employment law in 2023?05 January 2023
There’s lots happening in employment law all of a sudden. 2023 looks set to be a year in which major employment law changes are shaped and fleshed out. From the post-Brexit reform agenda to a series of private members’ bills, key caselaw decisions to other planned developments, there is much change on the horizon, and little time for us to get our heads around it. Here’s our annual round-up of what to expect.
New regulations in Ireland on transparent and predictable working conditions05 January 2023
The European Union (Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions) Regulations 2022 became law on 16 December 2022 without much attention, notwithstanding that it includes some significant obligations on employers which require their immediate attention.
What's happening in employment law in Ireland in 202305 January 2023
The whirlwind of workplace and employment law developments we saw in 2022 is set to continue with multiple proposals for reform in the pipeline, including requirements on employers to deal with flexible and remote work requests, the introduction of a national living wage and other reforms flowing from the EU. Here’s our annual round-up of what to expect.
What’s happening in employment law in Northern Ireland in 2023?04 January 2023
With the continuing lack of a functioning Executive and Assembly in Northern Ireland, employment law remains more or less in stalemate. That said, the active post-Brexit reform agenda impacts Northern Ireland and the decision in an important holiday pay case is expected. Here’s our annual round-up of what to expect.
Industrial action22 November 2022
Economically turbulent times resulting from coronavirus have seen an increase in trade unions’ membership and an increase in them ‘flexing their muscles’ by threatening industrial action over adverse changes in the workplace for their members.
When can a mistake not be corrected? Court of Appeal rules collective agreements are not capable of rectification03 November 2022
A recent Court of Appeal decision has confirmed that employers cannot seek rectification of mistakes in collective agreements. Where agreements with unions about terms and conditions have been wrongly recorded, employers will be limited to seeking to rectify relevant employees’ individual employment contracts in as far as they incorporate the mistaken terms.