UK Government

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills: Blacklisting to be Outlawed

Press Release   •   Dec 02, 2009 11:41 GMT

It will be unlawful for trade union members to be denied employment through blacklists under plans outlined by Employment Relations Minister Lord Young today.

To prevent employers from blacklisting workers for their trade union membership or activities the Government will introduce new rules banning the practice. The move comes as the Government publishes its response to a public consultation on the subject held over the summer, and follows evidence that a number of employers in the construction sector had been unlawfully vetting workers.

Employment Relations Minister Lord Young said:

“Blacklisting someone because they are a member of a trade union is totally unacceptable.

“There is already legal protection against the misuse of people’s personal details. We will now strengthen the law by introducing new regulations to outlaw the compilation, dissemination and use of blacklists.

“The Government is determined to stamp out this despicable practice and our legislative proposals are a proportionate and robust response”.

The regulations will:

  • make it unlawful for organisations to refuse employment or sack individuals as a result of appearing on a blacklist;
  • make it unlawful for employment agencies to refuse to provide a service on the basis of appearing on a blacklist; and
  • enable individuals or unions to pursue compensation or solicit action against those who compile, distribute or use blacklists.

The Government plans to table the regulations for Parliament to consider as soon as possible.   They will need to be debated and approved by each House before they can be implemented.  Provided Parliament gives its approval, the regulations could be brought into effect early next year.

Notes to editors

1.         Under section 3 of the Employment Relations Act 1999, the government has the power to introduce regulations prohibiting the blacklisting of workers for their union membership or activities.

2.         In March the Information Commissioner reported that 40 construction companies had subscribed to a database used to vet construction workers, which has now been closed under data protection law.  On 16 July, Mr Ian Kerr, the individual who operated the database, was fined £5,000 at Knutsford Crown Court for committing a criminal offence under data protection law.

3.         In response to this new evidence on 11 May 2009, the government announced that it would seek to bring forward legislation to outlaw blacklisting – the statement to Parliament can be found here http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmhansrd/cm090511/wmstext/90511m0001.htm#column_33WS

4.         A public consultation on revised draft regulations took place between 7 July and 18 August this year. The Government response to the public consultation can be viewed here: http://www.berr.gov.uk/files/file53734.pdf

Department for Business, Innovation & Skills

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is building a dynamic and competitive UK economy by: creating the conditions for business success; promoting innovation, enterprise and science; and giving everyone the skills and opportunities to succeed. To achieve this it will foster world-class universities and promote an open global economy. BIS - Investing in our future.

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