The Socialist Worker recently reported on an Employment Tribunal claim involving a Trade Union activist and her employer, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (“EHRC”). Her employer attempted to stop her from carrying out Trade Union-related strikes and protests against cuts and outsourcings made at the EHRC last year. She therefore issued an Employment Tribunal claim for detriment or dismissal for Trade Union reasons. She was apparently awarded £25,000 compensation by the Employment Tribunal for her employer’s actions. So, what does this case demonstrate? Principally, it shows that employees are entitled to join a Trade Union in their workplace or, alternatively, if they’re already members to participate in Trade Union-related activities without the threat of detriment or dismissal. We’ll have a look below at the rights that employees have related to Trade Unions in the workplace by examining the following:
- What rights do employees have related to Trade Union membership and participation?
- What are the consequences if your employer breaches your rights relating to this?
- What should you do if you think that your employment rights have been breached?
What rights do employees have related to Trade Union membership and participation?
Inducements related to trade union membership
It is unlawful for your employer to make you an offer for the purpose of:
- inducing you to become or not to become a member of a Trade Union; or
- not to to participate in trade union activities; or
- not to use Trade Union services at an appropriate time; or
- undermining a collective agreement negotiated on behalf of the union
Detriment or dismissal for Trade Union reasons
It is also unlawful for your employer to subject you to a detriment by any act or deliberate failure to act because:
- Your employer is attempting to prevent or deter you from becoming a member of a Trade Union; or
- Your employer is attempting to prevent or deter you from taking part in the activities of a Trade Union at an appropriate time; or
- Your employer is attempting to prevent or deter you from making use of the services of your Trade Union at an appropriate time
- Your employer is attempting to compel you to become a member of a trade union (or a particular trade union)
It is also automatically unfair to dismiss an employee or select them for redundancy where the sole or principal reason for doing so is because of the worker’s Trade Union-related activities.
What are the consequences if your employer breaches your rights relating to this?
If your employer attempts to induce you (as above), subjects you to a detriment (as above) or dismisses you because of your Trade Union-related activities then you have a right to make an Employment Tribunal claim because of this. It is recommended that you first submit a grievance letter (please find a grievance letter template here) to your employer, outlining your complaints succinctly and clearly.
What should you do if you think that your employment rights have been breached?
If you think that your employer has breached your Trade Union-related rights you should seek advice from your Trade Union or employment law advice from a specialist employment law solicitor or barrister. You should do this promptly as there are strict time limits in the Employment Tribunal.