Freedom of Association

What you must do - Law 1

The Law

In the UK (including Wales and Scotland), the key pieces of legislation related to this issue are The Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992, which was amended by the Employment Relations Act 1999 (ERA 99).
In Northern Ireland these rights are found in the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Northern Ireland) Order 1995.
The European Convention on Human Rights and the Human Rights Act 1998 guarantee the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of association.

Click here for key elements of the law. (Displayed in a popup window.)

What you need to do - Legal Requirements – these are the MINIMUM standards you MUST implement on site to be legally compliant and relate to ALL workers.

Freedom of Association

  • Workers have the right to join trade unions/associations and bargain collectively.
  • Employers cannot discriminate against workers based on their union membership; this includes recruitment, promotion, transfers and training.
  • Workers have the right to refuse to join a union and cannot be discriminated against for this.
  • If an employee or candidate has been discriminated against due to their union membership or non-membership, they may be entitled to compensation and/or reconsideration of their employment status.
  • Employers are not allowed to take action that would prevent or deter employees from becoming union members or making use of union services.
  • •Employers are not allowed to take action that would prevent or deter employees from refusing to become union members.

Activities of unions

  • The law allows unions to conduct their activities without interference.
  • The law allows union representatives to be freely elected without the interference of employers or other groups.
  • Union members are allowed reasonable time off for union activities - this is unpaid.
  • Union officials/representatives are allowed reasonable paid time off to conduct union activities - this includes training.
  • All workers are allowed to make use of union services without suffering detriment from their employers.

Communication with workers

  • The Information and Consultation of Employees (ICE) Regulations apply to businesses with 100 or more employees. They will be extended to businesses with 50 or more employees from 6 April 2008.
  • They give employees the right to be:
    • Informed about the business's economic situation
    • Informed and consulted about employment prospects, and
    • Informed and consulted about decisions likely to lead to substantial changes in work organisation or contractual relations, including redundancies and transfers.
  • Worker representatives are to be permitted reasonable paid time off to carry out their duties.

Now take the next step through: Freedom of Association and the Rght to Collective Bargaining.

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