Informa Markets

Author Bio ▼

Safety and Health Practitioner (SHP) is first for independent health and safety news.
March 5, 2010

Get the SHP newsletter

Daily health and safety news, job alerts and resources

Blacklisting regulations now in force

Regulations that make it unlawful for organisations to turn down people for work because their name is on a blacklist have now come into force.

Employers can no longer blacklist workers on the basis of trade-union membership or activities, while those who believe they have been discriminated against on these bases can pursue compensation, or take action against those who compile, distribute, or use blacklists.

The Blacklisting of Trade Unionists Regulations 2010 were introduced following a public consultation, which was held after the Information Commissioner’s Office revealed that a number of employers in the construction sector had been unlawfully vetting workers (click here for our earlier story).

Announcing the Regulations, employment relations minister, Lord Young, said: “Blacklisting someone because they are a member of a trade union is underhand, unfair and blights people’s lives. The new Regulations outlaw the compilation, dissemination and use of blacklists. They have been designed to build on existing protections in the area, which are found in trade-union and data-protection law. Good employers who operate fair and open vetting processes have nothing to fear from these regulations.

Unions, however, were less convinced. UCATT expressed its “bitter disappointment” over the “weakness” of the measures in the Regulations, claiming they will not prevent blacklisting from occurring.

The construction union’s general secretary, Alan Ritchie, said: “The Government has entirely rejected all UCATT submissions and attempts to have the regulations amended to ensure that blacklisting is stamped out. Fortunately for Lord Young, blacklisting doesn’t occur in the House of Lords but ordinary construction workers are not so privileged.”

UCATT had wanted blacklisting to be made a specific criminal offence, and the narrowly-defined “trade-union activities” to be broadened out. By failing to do so, the union said, “the Government has given the green light to employers to blacklist workers for undertaking unofficial industrial action, which could include stopping work due to safety fears, or a refusal to undertake voluntary overtime”.

According to the union, the regulations also fail to grant an automatic right to compensation for any worker who discovers that they have been blacklisted. If a blacklist is discovered, workers will not be automatically told that they had been blacklisted.

Mr Ritchie added: “Cynical construction employers will recognise the weakness of the regulations and could continue to blacklist workers. They know that they are unlikely to get caught and, if they do, they will merely get a slap on the wrist.”

Lord Young stood by the new law, saying: “I am confident that this new piece of legislation will bring to an end the disreputable practice of blacklisting once and for all.”

UCATT said it will continue to campaign to have the regulations overhauled so that they achieve this aim.


Related Topics

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments