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Employment Relations Act 2004

Dear Colleague

This is a brief note to keep you up to date with the new Employment Relations Act 2004.

The Employment Relations Act 2004 was given Royal Assent on 16th September 2004.

The provisions in the Act will come into force in stages between October 2004 and April 2005.

The Act mainly deals with collective issues e.g. recognition and industrial action law.

It follows the Government’s review of the Employment Relations Act 1999, which had introduced a statutory right to recognition, a right to be accompanied, and some protection from dismissal when taking industrial action.

In brief, the main changes include:

New provisions to tackle the intimidation of workers during recognition ballots by introducing rules which define proper campaigning activity (by both employers and unions)

New provisions to define the appropriate bargaining unit, the subjects covered for collective bargaining, and to allow unions to communicate with workers at an earlier stage in the process
New provisions to extend the protection against unfair dismissal for taking lawful industrial action from 8 to 12 weeks, exempting days of lock outs from counting towards the 12 weeks period, and defining in more detail the steps employers and unions should undertake when taking reasonable procedural steps to resolve industrial disputes
New provisions on industrial action ballots and notices

New provisions to widen the ability of unions to expel or exclude racist activists and others whose political behavior is incompatible with trade union membership A trade union modernization fund
New provisions to implement the European Court of Human Rights decision in the cases of Wilson & Palmer, which aim to ensure that members have a clear right to use the union’s services, and cannot be induced by the employer to relinquish essential union rights or be persuaded from seeking union recognition
There are also changes relating to the right to be accompanied, unfair dismissal, information and consultation, National Minimum Wage, the Certification, and non-postal methods of balloting in statutory union elections and ballots.

Further details of the Act can be obtained from the DTI website at www.dti.gov.uk/er

I will issue a more detailed Law Briefing on the new Act in due course.

 

Barry Smith

Legal Officer

Direct line 0208 971 4216

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