The Government has announced that it intends to strengthen the law by introducing new regulations to prevent union members being denied employment because of secret blacklists.
There is already legal protection against the misuse of people’s personal details. In March, the Information Commissioner reported that 40 construction companies had subscribed to a database service for vetting construction workers, which has now been closed under data protection law.
The Employment Relations Act 1999 gives the Government the power to introduce regulations prohibiting the blacklisting of workers for their union membership or activities.
In 2003, the Government carried out a full consultation on draft regulations to outlaw the compilation, dissemination and use of blacklists, but at that time no hard evidence was found that blacklisting was taking place. It was therefore decided to review the issue if and when hard evidence became available. Since there has already been a full consultation, this second consultation will be shorter than the usual twelve week period. Its aim is to ensure that the regulations take full account of developments since 2003.
The consultation will be launched in the early summer. Ministers plan to seek Parliamentary approval for the revised regulations in the autumn and to implement them as soon as possible thereafter.