The Government recently decided to amend the law regarding blacklisting of workers, using powers available to it under the Employment Relations Act 1999, by prohibiting the blacklisting of workers on account of their union membership or activities.
The Employment Relations Act 1999 (Blacklists) Regulations 2010 came into force on 2 March. They have been designed to build on existing protections in this area, which are found in trade union and data protection law.
The Regulations outlaw the compilation, dissemination and use of blacklists and:
- make it unlawful for organisations to refuse employment to or to sack individuals because they appear on a blacklist;
- make it unlawful for employment agencies to refuse to provide a service on the basis that an individual appears on a blacklist; and
- enable individuals or unions to pursue compensation or solicit action against those who compile, distribute or use blacklists.
These changes are a response to evidence that blacklists are in existence. Last year, a man who sold details of workers’ trade union activities and past employment conduct to construction companies wishing to vet potential staff was found guilty of a serious breach of the Data Protection Act 1998.