Unions welcome delay on proposed restrictions to union activity

Trade Union Bill will be amended to include a three-year delay before caps can be made to limit union activity 

The RCN has welcomed a three-year delay before the amount of time staff representatives can spend on union work can be capped.

The college had warned that plans to cap facility time, which enables representatives to carry out their trade union role, could increase staff turnover and affect productivity.

This week (April 19) Lord Bridges of Headley announced the Trade Union Bill would be amended to delay the cap for three years. The delay will allow two years for data to be collected on the time spent on union activities so that 'reasonable' levels can be more accurately judged.

If the amount of time spent on union activity is then deemed unreasonable when compared with other similar workplaces, the union representative would then be given a year to make 'sufficient progress' before a cap would be implemented, he told the House of Lords.

Evidence from RCN workplace representatives show that those who have sufficient facility time are able to influence important issues such as staffing levels, the management of bank and agency nurses, and staff sickness and stress.

RCN general secretary Janet Davies said: ‘The government has listened to our warnings about the importance of facility time.

'More detail is now needed but this amendment goes some way towards accepting the importance of the work of trade unions for staff and employers and most importantly patients.'

At the same debate Lord Bridges said another aspect of the controversial bill, the end of the right of workers to pay union subscriptions by deducting them from their wages, would be removed.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis described the withdrawal of these plans to stop check-off payments as a ‘real improvement’.

The Trade Union Bill will receive a third reading on April 25 in the House of Lords.




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