The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has announced that an independent review on the delivery of secure methods of electronic balloting will be chaired by Sir Ken Knight and will report to Parliament by no later than December 2017. The review is required under the Trade Union Act 2016 and may herald the introduction of electronic balloting in industrial disputes.
The Trade Union Act 2016 received Royal Assent on 4 May 2016. The Act is not yet in force; its provisions will require further legislation in the form of regulations before they are implemented. The Government has yet to outline the proposed implementation timetable.
Under the Act, the Secretary of State was required to commission an independent review on the delivery of secure methods of electronic balloting within six months of the Act being passed (i.e. by no later than 3 November 2016). The prospect of electronic balloting was a controversial aspect of the Bill as it passed through Parliament and was only introduced at the report stage in the House of Lords in a Government concession.
In line with this requirement, BEIS has recently announced that the independent review will be chaired by Sir Ken Knight.
The review will address the following issues:
- The electronic and physical security of e-balloting methods, including risks of interception, impersonation, hacking, fraud or misleading or irregular practices.
- If any system can safeguard against the risk of intimidation of union members and protect anonymity of ballot responses.
- The security and resilience of existing practices of balloting union members.
- The aims of the Trade Union Act 2016 to ensure strikes and related disruption to the public only happen as a result of a clear, positive decision by those entitled to vote.
The final report is to be laid before Parliament, together with the Secretary of State's response, by the end of December 2017.