Last reviewed 20 November 2023

In the context of the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act 2023, the Department for Business and Trade (DBT) has published guidance for employers, trade unions and workers on issuing work notices in relation to minimum service levels during strike action.

Available on the GOV.UK website, the guide covers work notices issued under s.234C of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992, as amended by the 2023 Act.

Where strike action is called and minimum service levels regulations are in place, employers can issue work notices to identify people who are required to work to help ensure the minimum service levels are met, the DBT explained.

They can do so when the trade union has given notice to the employer of strike action and the employer provides a service specified in the minimum service levels regulations.

The Government has also laid a Code of Practice in Parliament which sets out the reasonable steps trade unions should take to ensure their members comply with work notices and help ensure minimum service levels are met.

Its response to the public consultation on the Code of Practice has also been published and can be found on the GOV.UK website.

The reasonable steps include, but are not limited to, clearly identifying members, contacting those named in a work notice and advising them not to strike and seeking to avoid encouraging those named in a work notice not to cross a picket line.

“If a union fails to take these reasonable steps, they will lose their legal protection from damages claims and possible injunctions,” the DBT said. “Last year we raised the maximum damages that courts can award against a union for unlawful strike action. For the biggest unions, the maximum award has risen from £250,000 to £1 million.”