Trade Unions - Introduction

The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, (BERR) is responsible for policy and legislation on trade unions including:

  • Trade Union recognition and collective bargaining;
  • Industrial action;
  • Statutory redundancy pay;
  • Guarantee payments;
  • Providing information and advice on trade unions and their policies.


In Success at Work (see related links) the Government stated that it would carry out a review of workplace representatives to examine ways in which that their role should be adapted to the modern workplace and their contribution to the workplace maximised.

The review was launched on 29 June 2006 with the following terms of reference

Terms of Reference

The Government recognises the valuable role played by workplace representatives.  This review will assess whether representatives have sufficient access to facilities and facility time to enable them to carry out their functions efficiently and effectively, bearing in mind the needs and resources of modern workplaces.  It will also assess whether there is a need to clarify or simplify the relevant statutory rights governing facilities and facility time, and whether there is adequate practical guidance provided to help parties apply those entitlements at the workplace.

A formal three-month consultation started on 4 January 2007 and ended on 29 March 2007. This document summarises the views received during the consultation and sets out the Government’s response to the issues raised. This response document presents the final findings of the review, including the recommendations below. The existing regulatory framework is to be retained.

The recommendations include:

  • the revision of the existing Code of Practice on Time Off for Trade Union Duties and Activities by the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) to modernise the practical guidance it gives to managers and representatives;

  • resources permitting, a research project to evaluate the workplace impact of trade union education to be undertaken;
  • resources permitting, BERR to develop e-courses for non-union representatives and for the management of representatives by middle managers;
  • resources permitting, BERR to create a new portal to allow easy access to the existing Government guidance on workplace representation; and
  • the publication of joint tripartite statements in support of modern union representatives and the benefits they bring.

The Government intends to implement these recommendations before the end of this Parliament. See related documents on this page for response document.

Workplace Representatives: a review of their facilities and facility time

The Union Modernisation Fund

The purpose of the Union Modernisation Fund is to provide financial assistance to independent trade unions and their federations in support of innovative projects which speed unions' adaptation to a changing labour market and new ways of working. Click above for further information.

A copy of the Collective Redundancies (Amendment) Regulations 2006 (SI 2387/2006) can be obtained from the Office of Public Sector Information website (OPSI). (See External Links)