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.
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.
Unlawful offers to bypass collective bargaining – narrow scope confirmed09 September 2021
If an employer tells employees who are members of a recognised trade union that it will unilaterally impose new terms, it is not making an “offer” amounting to an unlawful inducement to bypass collective bargaining, the Employment Appeal Tribunal has confirmed. The members’ redress is limited to their rights under contract law, such as to work only “under protest” and sue for breach of contract.
New judgment restricts employers’ scope for responding to industrial action30 June 2021
The Employment Appeal Tribunal has interpreted the law on detrimental treatment for trade union activities in a way that limits how employers may respond to their staff taking industrial action.
Lewis Silkin successful in Deliveroo Court of Appeal rider status challenge24 June 2021
By a unanimous 3-0 verdict, the Court of Appeal has upheld the High Court’s dismissal of a judicial review of a finding by the Central Arbitration Committee that Deliveroo riders are not “workers”. The Court ruled that the riders are not in an “employment relationship” for the purposes of European law.
Court of Appeal rejects challenge to Deliveroo riders’ self-employed status24 June 2021
The Court of Appeal has unanimously and emphatically rejected an appeal, based on novel human rights arguments, that Deliveroo riders were “workers” for the purposes of the UK’s trade union recognition legislation.
Resourcing for 2021: wider impacts of the present crisis10 March 2021
The final instalment of our three-part series of articles exploring resourcing challenges, opportunities and trends in 2021 examines a range of employment issues including reward strategy, outsourcing and collective representation.
I’m still standing - should employers set up a standing body for collective consultation?10 March 2021
Employers may have to contemplate difficult decisions as they look ahead to the lasting effects of the pandemic, including potentially making redundancies. This article discusses whether now might be an opportune time for employers with no recognised trade union to set up a standing body for collective consultation purposes.
Court of Appeal rejects human rights challenge to UK union recognition regime04 March 2021
The Court of Appeal has rejected a trade union’s contention that the block on it applying to the Central Arbitration Committee for recognition because an employer already recognised another independent trade union was incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.
Trade union recognition18 February 2021
Trade unions exist to further the interests of their members and to help regulate their relations with their employers.