On 20 July 2023, the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill received Royal Assent, becoming the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act 2023 (DBT Press Release). The Act amends the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 to provide for minimum service levels (MSLs) during periods of strike action in six key sectors – healthcare, fire and rescue, education, transport, border security and the nuclear industry (see FC Feature 10 January 2023).
The Act came into force on the day it was passed and gives the Secretary of State the power to specify MSLs through further regulations, which will require public consultation and the approval of both Houses of Parliament. It also enables employers to issue work notices to require specified MSLs to be delivered for individual strikes and trade unions will be required to take reasonable steps to ensure an appropriate number of specified workers work on strike days. Where MSLs apply, trade unions will lose protections from tortious liability if they are not delivered and specified workers who still take strike action will lose their protection from automatic unfair dismissal.
The government has consulted on proposed MSLs for passenger rail services during periods of strike action (see FC Feature 22 February 2023), as well as for ambulance and fire and rescue services (see FC Feature 10 February 2023). It will consult this summer on the nature of the reasonable steps unions should take to ensure their members comply with a work notice issued by employers in relation to MSLs.
Numerous reports on the Bill were published during its passage through Parliament, including a Joint Committee on Human Rights Report: Legislative Scrutiny of the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill (see FC Feature 28 April 2023). In May 2023, the House of Commons Library published a Research Briefing that considers the Lords' proposed amendments ahead of the Bill’s several rounds of ping pong between the Lords and the Commons that took place from May to July 2023 (see FC Feature 19 May 2023).
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