5 May 2016

Two significant pieces of legislation completed their passage through the parliamentary process on 4 May and emerged as the Trade Union Act and the Enterprise Act.

The latter will benefit the UK’s 5.4 million businesses, according to Business Secretary Sajid Javid, with measures ranging from cutting red tape and tackling late payment to boosting the quality and quantity of apprenticeships.

The Act includes measures to: establish a Small Business Commissioner to help small firms resolve issues such as late payment; and extends the Primary Authority scheme to make it easier for businesses to access consistent, tailored and assured advice from local authorities.

It also creates a legal obligation for insurers to pay claims to businesses within a reasonable time.

Additional measures under the Act will reform the business rates appeals system; enhance shop workers’ rights to opt out of working on Sundays; and pave the way for bringing private capital in to the Green Investment Bank.

Meanwhile, according to Employment Minister Nick Boles, the Trade Union Act will ensure that people will now be protected from undemocratic industrial action as this will only ever be able to go ahead when there has been a ballot turnout of at least 50%.

The Act also lays down that, in important public services, including in the health, education, transport, border security and fire sectors, an additional threshold of 40% of support to take industrial action from all eligible members must be met for action to be legal.

The Government says that the Act will improve union practices and increase transparency but it has been attacked by the TUC as "bad and divisive".

The full text of the Enterprise Act 2016 is available here; the full text of The Trade Union act 2016 is available here. The Acts’ commencement dates are not known. Various sections will be brought into force by statutory instruments (SIs) as determined by the Government.