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Trade Union Blacklisting Outlawed

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became illegal yesterday as new rules banning the practice came into effect.  The move follows public consultation on the subject and evidence that a number of employers in the construction sector had been unlawfully vetting workers.

Last March, for example, the Information Commissioner reported that 40 construction companies had subscribed to a database used to vet construction workers.  On 16 July, 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.

The new regulations:

  • 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 an individual appearing on a blacklist; and
  • enable individuals or unions to pursue compensation or solicit action against those who compile, distribute or use blacklists. 

Employment Relations Minister Lord Young said:

"Blacklisting someone because they are a member of a trade union is underhand and unfair.

"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. "

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