The Threat to Facility Time in the Trade Union Act 2016: A Necessary Austerity Measure?

Jackie Lane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The various provisions of the Trade Union Act 2016 (TUA) pose possibly the greatest threat to trade union freedom since the raft of anti-union Conservative legislation enacted between 1979 and 1997. These new restrictions have been comprehensively documented and analysed in the recent special issue of the Industrial Law Journal. Nevertheless, the threat to facility time for trade union workplace representatives, those at the coalface of trade union activism, is less well publicised. The Act puts at risk the paid time off which union representatives have come to expect as a right, and a vital adjunct to their role and responsibilities. This particular aspect of the new legislation carries potentially the greatest threat to the ability of trade unions to organise and bargain collectively, as it could undermine the ability of representatives to represent their members effectively and to promote membership in the workplace.

Good employers recognise the value of workplace representation, but a government which focuses purely on the financial cost of supporting the role of representatives will inevitably seek to reduce that expense, citing it as a ‘burden on business’ and, in the case of publicly funded employers, a direct cost to the taxpayer. The true cost of the proposed restrictions to facility time may take many years to become evident,
but this particular provision has the potential to place harmonious industrial relations in the workplace beyond salvation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)134-143
Number of pages10
JournalIndustrial Law Journal
Issue number1
Early online dateNov 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017


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