Industrial relations

The team always seems to be ahead of the curve and develops close relationships with its clients.

Chambers UK
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Penningtons Manches Cooper’s employment law team has a wealth of expertise in dealing with collective workforce issues, both for employers and trade unions. We provide pragmatic solutions to help develop productive working relationships with trade unions, often in pressurised situations.

Our highly regarded industrial relations lawyers work with employers in a variety of sectors to manage their engagement with trade unions. At a national level, we advise employers of different sizes on a broad spectrum of industrial relations issues ranging from the recognition of trade unions to collective agreements and bargaining, collective consultation, strike ballots, strike management and injunctions. We also offer authoritative guidance on the legal issues and strategic management of picketing, public demonstrations and social media campaigning.

We have extensive experience of advising trade unions on industrial relations and collective bargaining, including the detailed requirements for ballots for industrial action and applications for statutory and voluntary collective bargaining. Our specialist trade union solicitors provide unique insights to executive teams on how to negotiate and work with trade unions to best resolve the issues that are at play.

We advise across a range of sectors including education, shipping, energy, manufacturing, aviation, communication, transport and food production. Our client base extends from some of the most highly-unionised sectors to those that traditionally have had little union engagement. We tailor our advice to suit the nature of the industrial relations framework for each employer.   

Our expertise covers social and political industrial relations on a national and global level. We have a unique capability associated with the Trade Unions Congress and the International Labour Organization (ILO), which is a United Nations agency. Our industrial relations lawyers advise on ILO labour standards such as the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948 (No 87) and the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949 (No 98), including their use in Government consultations, corporate codes of conduct, framework agreements with trade unions, and CSR/business and human rights initiatives.

Both as a team and individually, we engage in consultations on proposed changes to the law on industrial action, liaise with other stakeholders and are frequent commentators and writers on industrial relations issues. Widely acknowledged for their specialist expertise, our industrial relations and trade union lawyers are recommended for their work in the latest editions of both Chambers UK and The Legal 500.

We offer expert advice on:

  • union recognition agreements, both statutory and voluntary
  • rights of trade union members and officials
  • membership organisations
  • collective bargaining
  • collective information and consultation on redundancies and TUPE
  • managing strikes and other industrial action
  • strike injunctions
  • trade union litigation, including collective and individual claims in unionised workplaces

Recent work highlights

Strike injunction

Successfully obtaining an injunction in relation to a national strike in the public sector concerning incorrect balloting procedures.

Trade union recognition and judicial review

Acting for two employers on claims presented under the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 over bargaining units proposed by independent trade unions, and subsequently applying for a judicial review of the decision of the Central Arbitration Committee to grant statutory trade union recognition.

Board level strike advice

Providing strike advice to executive teams including in relation to the legality of strike actions as well as guidance on strike organisation, ACAS conciliation proceedings and settlement agreements.

Action short of a strike

Advising one of the largest employers in the UK in relation to the effect of overtime bans and temporary cessations of work by three of its recognised trade unions.

Related expertise

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC311575 and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority under number 419867.

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP