Non-strike industrial action: Edward Benson of law firm Browne Jacobson examines the legalities surrounding industrial action short of full-scale strikes.(Risk Management)

INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS HAVE CHANGED immeasurably over recent years. Following waves of recent regulation of employment law, there is now less to be gained from industrial action that cannot be gained from an employment tribunal; and there are significant disincentives for employees considering industrial action, including loss of pay and possible loss of protection from unfair dismissal.

Industrial action short of a strike may be a more compelling prospect for employees than a full scale strike. Experience shows that carefully targeted industrial action can be as disruptive as a strike. Nevertheless, unions need to take care when calling non-strike industrial action, for two reasons:

* The definition of strike action--ie a concerted stoppage of work--may be wide enough to cover some forms of industrial action not traditionally regarded as strike action

* Employers may still be entitled to impose a pay cut or withhold pay altogether during such industrial action. …

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