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Trade unions: blacklisting

Published Friday, September 1, 2017

This note sets out the background to the the Employment Relations Act 1999 (Blacklists) Regulations 2010, and discusses recent developments.

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Blacklisting is the practice of compiling information on individuals concerning their trade union membership and activities, with a view to that information being used by employers or employment agencies to discriminate in relation to recruitment or treatment.  It has a long history, dating back at least to 1919 and the formation of the Economic League. 

In March 2009 the Information Commissioner published evidence of blacklisting carried out by an organisation called The Consulting Association.  This led to the enactment of the Employment Relations Act 1999 (Blacklists) Regulations 2010 (SI 2010/493), which prohibit the compilation, use, sale or supply of blacklists.  

In July 2014 a number of construction companies said to be involved in blacklisting - Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska UK and VINCI PLC – unilaterally established a compensation scheme for individual workers affected by the practice.  The scheme was criticised by unions, who saw it as an attempt by the firms to limit their liabilities.

Also in July 2014, the High Court agreed to hear a group claim brought by workers and unions on behalf of their members, against contractors known to have used The Consulting Association’s services. The parties settled out of court, with the total value of the settlements amounting to approximately £75 million in favour of the affected workers.

This note sets out the background to the 2010 Regulations, the law relevant to blacklisting and some recent developments. 

Commons Briefing papers SN06819

Author: Douglas Pyper

Topics: Data protection, Employment, Industrial relations

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