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Employees have a statutory right in the UK not to be subjected to detriment, or action short of dismissal, on trade union grounds. The purpose of this law is to prevent unfavourable treatment by employers of those who join or become active in trade unions or who refuse to join a trade union. The Employment Relations Act 1999 contains an important clarification of the meaning of ‘detriment’ and states that it includes not just a positive act (such as denying promotion to union activists) but also an omission. This is an important change because it makes it difficult for employers effectively to bribe employees to surrender union membership or collective bargaining by offering more favourable conditions to those on personal contracts. Employees are also protected from detriment in relation to their role as safety representatives, trustees of pension funds, or employee representatives, and if they exercise their rights under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998. An Employment Tribunal can award compensation for detriment and there is no maximum payment.

Subjects: Human Resource Management.

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