Being part of a trade union means that if your union is involved in an ongoing dispute, going out on strike may well become an option for you to think about and you may be concerned about where you stand legally if you do decide to go out on strike. There are a number of rules around what make a strike legal, and so long as these rules are followed, you are entitled by law to take industrial action.

The rules states that the union must ballot its members by post and ask them to vote on taking industrial action. Once they have voted the union must count all of the votes and announce the results, showing how many voted for and against a strike.

If the postal ballot shows that the majority of the union members voted in favour of strike action, then the union needs to give the employer 7 days’ notice of the intended strike action. You do not have to go out on strike if you do not want to. You cannot be disciplined if you choose not to strike.

Consequences Of Striking

Workers on strike
Image by Roger Blackwell

If you do decide to take part in a strike there will be consequences though. You will not be paid for the days you are out on strike though. This is because you breached your contract of employment. Your length of service may be affected with your strike days being deducted from this. This can then in turn affect your pension and any redundancy payments you may be entitled to.

You should not worry about losing your job as long as the strike you take part in is legal. If the strike has not followed the correct procedure or it does not meet the legal requirements you may be at risk of dismissal.

The strike will be illegal if:

  • Your employer was not given 7 days’ notice of the intention to strike
  • There was no ballot of union members before the strike action
  • The dispute between the union and the employer is not over terms of employment, such as pay

It is really important to make sure that any strike that you take part in follows all procedures correctly so that it is legal or else you, and anyone else who has taken part in the strike may be at risk of losing their jobs.

For more information about this article or any aspect of our employment law services, please call us on 0800 142 2775 or reply to this email and we will be delighted to help you (there is no charge for initial telephone discussions).