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RECOGNITION AND THE EMPLOYMENT RELATIONS ACT 1999

The Labour Party elected in May 1997 was committed to a legal right to recognition for the purposes of collective bargaining.37 The new administration outlined the substance of the right in the Employment White Paper, Fairness at Work,38 published in May 1998. After extensive consultation with both sides of industry and some amendment to the original proposals, the Employment Relations Bill containing the recognition provisions was introduced in January 1999 and received the royal assent in July of that year. The provisions of the Act on recognition in Sched 1 (inserted into TULR(C)A 1992 as Sched A1 and enforceable since 6 June 2000) amount to over 40 pages and 172 paragraphs. The Schedule was drafted in such great detail and length precisely in order to avoid the pitfalls of the previous experiment on compulsory recognition contained in the 1975 Employment Protection Act. The Government’s view was that the major shortcoming of the 1975 Act was its lack of detailed criteria and procedures for making decisions and its failure to provide ACAS with appropriate guidance as to how it should exercise its discretion.39 Consequently, the 1999 version of a statutory right to recognition is far more comprehensive in its application. A description and commentary on the complex procedure is provided below.40