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Trade Unions & Works Councils

Our specialist Trade Union and Collective group advises employers on all aspects of their industrial relations, specialising in advising on managing their relationships with trade unions, European Work Councils and other collective issues. Our team is made up of lawyers recognised as leaders in the field and is headed by a former trade union official.

We work with employers in many different sectors but one thing that we always do for them is make sure our advice is tailored to their needs, taking into account not only the type of workforce they have but also the relationship they have with their union or any European works council they have. Advising in this area is not just a question of applying black letter law, it’s about having the experience of dealing with such issues before and recognising what works and what doesn’t.

Issues we advise employers on include:

  • industrial relations strategy
  • dealing with union recognition requests
  • avoiding and dealing with industrial action including picketing
  • dealing with other leverage tactics increasingly being used by unions
  • demonstrations, sit ins and protests; the ability to withhold pay and benefits
  • applications for injunctions
  • defending claims by trade union representatives of detrimental treatment and dismissal on the grounds of their status and involvement with the union
  • dealing with unwanted union requests for confidential information; drafting and amending collective agreements
  • defending claims of inducing employees to withdraw from having their terms determined by collective bargaining
  • establishing European and National Works Councils (including working with members of our international alliance in relation to the same when necessary) and
  • the management of all stages of the process to establish a European Works Council
  • ongoing compliance with and the renegotiation of existing European Works Council agreements
  • strategic planning for the future impact of Brexit on European Works Councils

Related items

Brexit and European Works Councils - a status update and what you need to do next

29 January 2019

The final form of Brexit remains uncertain as does its impact on European Works Councils (“EWCs”), the area of employment law that it will most immediately and profoundly affect. This article guides you through the current state of play and suggests how best to prepare for what might happen to your existing UK law-governed EWC arrangements.

Employment Appeal Tribunal confirms that an employer’s attempt to bypass collective bargaining was unlawful

10 January 2018

A recent decision of the Employment Appeal Tribunal (“EAT”) has confirmed that offers made directly by an employer to its employees risk amounting to unlawful attempts to bypass collective bargaining contrary to s145B of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992. This was a costly exercise for the employer as they were ordered to pay penalties of more than £400,000.

European Works Councils under Irish Law

01 September 2017

European Works Councils are the only legally-mandated bodies for transnational information and consultation with employees in the world.

European Works Councils under Irish Law

30 August 2017

European Works Councils are the only legally-mandated bodies for transnational information and consultation with employees in the world.

The risk for employers in bypassing collective bargaining

16 March 2017

Where an employer has recognised a trade union for collective bargaining purposes, can it still put an offer directly to its employees? This was the thorny issue for consideration in a recent Employment Tribunal decision.

Industrial relations update

22 February 2017

Our summary of recent “collective” employment law developments includes the latest on the Government’s industrial action reforms, the Court of Appeal’s ruling in the Boots case concerning a “sweetheart” recognition agreement and a decision of the Central Arbitration Committee (“CAC”) upholding an information request by the trade union Unite.

Sean Dempsey comments for HR Magazine - The state of the union: The future of IR

13 February 2017

Employment law Partner, Sean Dempsey has commented in an article for HR Magazine which discusses the following question: are trade unions really representing modern workers or do they need to change with the times?

The Trade Union Act: Unpicking the new rules

02 February 2017

Lisa Patmore has written an article for HR Magazine as The Trade Union Act 2016 introduces significant reforms to the organising of industrial action.

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