Newsflash: Public sector – New laws coming (very) soon…

government reforms - elizabeth tower

What do we already know?

  1.  Trade Union reform:
    We updated you in our July 2015 Newsletter Government reforms (1): Trade union bill on the Government’s proposed package of Trade Union reforms and in our December 2016 Newsletter Government reforms (2): Trade Union Act 2016 on the detail of the ‘important public services’ (IPS), in which at least 40% must vote in favour of industrial action.We updated you that the package of reforms would most likely come into force on 1 March 2017.We also updated you in our January 2017 Newsletter New guidance (2): Revised Code of Practice on Industrial action that a draft revised Code of Practice on industrial action ballots and notice to employers has been published, available here.
  2. Public Sector Apprenticeship targets:
    We updated you in our February 2016 Newsletter Government reforms (3): Apprenticeships  that the Government was consulting on public sector apprenticeship targets.The Government proposed that public bodies that have 250 or more employees in England will have a duty to have a minimum of 2.3% apprenticeship starts each year.

What’s new?

  1. Trade Union reform:
    On 1 March 2017 the main provisions of the Trade Union Act 2016 come into force. These include:
    • 50% turnout requirement for ballots;
    • Ballots in “important public services” (IPS) require additional 40% support;
    • Minimum notice of strike action is doubled to two weeks (or seven days if both parties agree);
    • Changes to information requirements in relation to voting papers (such as: i) including a summary of the dispute and the period(s) within which action is expected to take place; and ii) the type of industrial action short of a strike where relevant);
    • Changes to information provided to members on the result of a ballot;
    • Union supervision of picketing; and
    • Check-off in the public sector: the power to make regulations to require unions to make a reasonable payment to employers for operation of a check-off system (which is where union membership payments are deducted from union members’ salaries by their employers and paid over to unions).
  1. Public Sector Apprenticeship targets:
    The regulations setting out the apprenticeship targets are to come in during March 2017, with the aim being to introduce the target from April 2017 to coincide with the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy.  The first reports on the targets would be due in March 2018.On 20 January 2017, the Government published its response to its consultation on public sector apprenticeship targets. The Government has decided:
    • FTE headcount will be the basis for the apprenticeship target; and
    • to introduce flexibility by making the target an average from 2017/18 – 2020/21 inclusive.

The Government will draft regulations which will indicate those bodies in scope and provide more information on the reporting arrangements. The regulations are subject to affirmative resolution and will be debated in both Houses of Parliament.

We’ll be sure to update you when we have more details on these regulations…

government reforms - elizabeth tower