§ Ms Harman
To ask the Secretary of State for Employment (1) how many employees have not given re-authorisation for their trade union membership subscriptions to be renewed, as laid down by the Trade Union Reform and Employment Rights Act 1993;
(2) if he will list the abuses of the process of employer check-off of trade union membership subscription remedied by the Trade Union Reform and Employment Rights Act 1993;
(3) if he will issue guidance to employers regarding information that they should give to employees about whether their trade union membership has been cancelled under the terms of the Trade Union Reform and Employment Rights Act 1993 because of failure to re-authorise;
(4) how much the process of seeking re-authorisation of trade union membership subscriptions under the terms of the Trade Union Reform and Employment Rights Act 1993 by trade unions has cost so far in terms of (a) labour costs, (6) administrative costs and (c) overall, breaking the information down by every trade union;
(5) what is the consequence for any individual who does not re-authorise the renewal of trade union membership subscriptions as laid down by the Trade Union Reform and Employment Rights Act 1993;
(6) if he will make a statement on the outcome of the first three-yearly exercise of re-authorisation of trade union membership subscription renewal laid down by the Trade Union Reform and Employment Rights Act 1993.
§ Mr. Oppenheim
There is no statutory requirement for re-authorisation of union membership subscriptions. Provisions in the 1993 Act require prior written consent from the worker, and renewed consent at least every three years, if an employer is lawfully to make check-off deductions from a worker's pay for union membership subscriptions.
The Department has no information on how many workers have consented to such deductions since these provisions came into force.
The case for changes to the law on check-off as it then stood was set out in the 1991 Green Paper "Industrial Relations in the 1990s". Paragraphs 6.18–6.27 of the Green Paper identified the potential problems which could arise for individuals, as well as particular instances of concern about the operation of check-off arrangements.
Guidance on the law is given in the Department's published "Guide to the Trade Union Reform and Employment Rights Act 1993"—Ref: PL 945—and in the booklet "The Payment of Union Subscriptions Through the Check-off—Ref: PL 944. Both were published when the provisions came into force.
How employers may have responded to these requirements, and the consequential costs that they, or trade unions, may have incurred, are matters for them. No employer is required to offer check-off facilities.
If an employee does not authorise the continuance of such deductions, it will be unlawful for the employer to continue to make them.
I am unaware of any complaints having been made to industrial tribunals about unlawful deduction of check-off 848W since the provisions came into effect. This may indicate that employers are complying with the law.