Employment law update – June 2019
employment | 28.06.2019
Are you currently struggling to work alongside a trade union? Are you concerned about a collective dispute? Or do you believe that there is a possibility of industrial action against your business?
Employers and trade unions should work together to ensure employees’ working arrangements operate effectively and for mutual benefit. The legal area of trade unions is relatively complex, and employers are often unsure about what they can or cannot do. This is where expert legal advice is invaluable.
You could find yourself facing a dispute with an individual who is a trade union member or a collective dispute, which is a dispute between you and a group of your employees. Collective disputes can be about a number of issues, including:
Collective disputes should ideally be resolved by you and the group of employees working together, but sometimes it is necessary to involve a third party (such as ACAS) to use alternative dispute resolution, such as conciliation, arbitration or mediation.
Legal advice at an early stage can often help you find ways to defuse the situation and arrive at a solution, before your business suffers too much disruption. It can also help to have a collective dispute procedure in place, which provides clarification for both sides.
Industrial action is action taken by employees of a company as a protest. Any concerted action which is taken in order to put pressure on an employer is capable of being industrial action.
As an employer, you can stop an employee from working or coming back to work during a dispute. This is called a ‘lock-out’. We would advise you to seek legal advice before following a lock-out process, to ensure you are following the correct procedure. This will minimise the chance of the employee bringing a claim.
If an employee takes industrial action, they may well be in breach of their employment contract. This means you may not have to pay them for work they didn’t do while they were taking industrial action. You may also be able to sue the employee for breaking their contract, although this can risk escalating the dispute and is an approach that employers rarely take.
If you would like advice on industrial action, including how best to deal with it or how to calculate the length of service of an employee who has taken industrial action, please contact us. We will be able to give you advice for your specific situation.
Our employment experts can help explain the law surrounding trade unions, collective disputes and industrial action, to help you feel better informed and more confident about taking action. We can provide background advice, so that you can ask us for support as and when you need it, or by helping you prepare documents and prepare for meetings.
Collective disputes and industrial action often cause employers a great deal of stress. Whether your business is working with a new trade union or you are struggling to establish a productive relationship with the current trade union, our clear and practical advice will help you deal with difficult situations.
employment | 28.06.2019