It is now unlawful for trade union members to be denied employment through blacklists, under new regulations that come into effect today.

To prevent employers from blacklisting workers for their trade union membership or activities the Government has introduced new rules banning the practice. The move follows public consultation on the subject and 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 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.

“I am confident that this new piece of legislation will bring to an end the disreputable practice of blacklisting once and for all”.

The 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.

Background Brief

  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 –
  4. A public consultation on revised draft regulations took place between 7 July and 18 August 2009. The Government response to the public consultation can be viewed here: