Main provisions of the Trade Union Act 2016 come into force

Implementation date: 1 March 2017

The Trade Union Act 2016 (which received Royal Assent on 4 May 2016) reforms the rules on trade union ballots for taking industrial action. The main provisions of the Act are commenced by the Trade Union Act 2016 (Commencement No.3 and Transitional) Regulations 2017 (SI 2017/139).

The main provisions of the Act:

  • increase to 50% the voting threshold for union ballots turnouts (while retaining the requirement for there to be a simple majority of votes in favour of industrial action);
  • introduce an additional requirement that 40% of all those entitled to vote in the ballot must vote in favour of industrial action in certain public services such as health, education, fire and transport (see below);
  • require a description of the trade dispute on the ballot paper;
  • introduce a requirement for the union to appoint a picket supervisor;
  • increase the amount of notice of a strike to be given to an employer to 14 days; and
  • restrict the mandate for industrial action post ballot by introducing time limits on the mandate.

Regulations set out details of the type of occupations and services that will be subject to the 40% threshold, and the Government has published Guidance to accompany the Regulations:

The Act also introduces a requirement that, in order to make a contribution to the political fund element of a trade union, new members must opt in. The Trade Union Act 2016 (Political funds) (Transition period) Regulations 2017 (SI 2017/130) provide for a 12-month transition period beginning on 1 March 2017.