COVID-19: some collective bargaining rules to be temporarily modified | Employment Law Update April

It was announced that the Government has temporarily modified, for the duration of the current Epidemic Notice, some of the rules for collective bargaining. The changes, made by the Epidemic Preparedness (Employment Relations Act 2000 — Collective Bargaining) Immediate Modification Order 2020, would extend the usual time frames in the collective bargaining process and would allow an alternative ratification process to be used if the existing process becomes impracticable. They will take effect from 16 April 2020.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment’s release describes the changes to the Act as being to:


  • modify the maximum time frames for an employer to notify their employees who are in work and covered by collective bargaining that has been initiated, to exclude the duration of the Epidemic Notice (modifying section 43).

  • modify the maximum time frames for an employer to seek consolidation of notices to initiate collective bargaining (40 days), and for unions to respond to an attempted consolidation (30 days), to exclude the duration of the Epidemic Notice (modifying section 50).

  • where collective agreements would have otherwise expired, but are still in force for 12 months after expiry, modify the 12-month period to exclude any period covered by the Epidemic Notice if the 12-month period would otherwise end while the Epidemic Notice is in force or up to three months after it expires or is revoked (modifying section 53).

  • allow the union to notify the other intended party or parties to a collective agreement of a new ratification procedure to ratify the collective agreement (e.g., online balloting, video conferencing or teleconferencing) if a union has committed at the outset of collective bargaining to a ratification procedure that is no longer practicable (e.g. in-person ratification meetings) (modifying section 51).


Information reproduced with permission of Wolters Kluwer


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