In 2009 the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) raided the premises of the Consulting Association. They discovered a blacklist with over 3,200 construction workers names on which had been accessed by over 40 firms. Earlier this year, an electrician was reinstated at the Crossrail project after bringing a claim in the employment tribunal for, amongst other complaints, blacklisting.
Unfortunately blacklisting is a real and current problem which results in hard working, responsible employees who voice their concerns (about, for instance, a faulty fire door) being dismissed and prevented from working within their industry again.
The current legislation to prevent blacklisting is the Employment Relations Act 1999 (Blacklists) Regulations 2010. These Regulations make it unlawful to compile, use, sell or supply a ‘prohibited list’ – a blacklist. Such lists often contain details of people who are or have been members of trade unions or people who are taking part or have taken part in trade union activities.
Have you been affected?
If you think that you have been dismissed from a job, suffered a detriment at work or have been refused a job, and you believe this may be because of your current or past involvement with a trade union or, for example, whistle-blowing complaints you have made, it may be that your name is on an illegal blacklist.
If you wish to check whether you are on the Blacklist held by the Consulting Association you can call the ICO’s helpline on 0303 123 1113 between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday. If your details are not on this list, unfortunately it is very difficult to discover if you are on a blacklist; however, here are a few things to bear in mind and some ideas that might assist you if you believe your name might be on a blacklist:
•Your job interview goes well and you receive an immediate positive response from a potential employer. They take up your references and suddenly their attitude towards you becomes cold and formal.
•If this happens we recommend that you communicate with the potential employer and ask them for reasons for their change of heart. It may be that there was genuine, lawful reason (e.g. something in one of your references, such as a large amount of days of absence with an ex-employer).
•If the potential employer will not inform you of their reasons for the change in their attitude it may be that one of your referees is providing you with a negative reference. You could try changing the referees on your CV, one at a time, to a different person in the company that you used to work for. If you are receiving a negative reference from a particular referee, it will become obvious if you successfully obtain employment.
•If the above suggestions fail it may be that you are on a blacklist. Unfortunately as an individual it is very difficult to discover the existence of a blacklist. If you do however learn that you are on a blacklist there are a couple of legal options open to you.
If you are on a blacklist
You might be able to bring a claim in the Employment Tribunal. You should be aware that the time limit for bringing such proceedings is usually three months (less one day) from the date of the act you are bringing a claim for. The Employment Tribunal has the power to extend this limit in exceptional circumstances.
You might be able to bring a claim in the County Court or the Court of Session. In these courts you have six years to commence proceedings from from the date of the act you are bringing a claim for.
Our advice to you is – if you are a trade union member and believe that you are on a blacklist - then contact your union immediately for advice.
This guest blog from Morrish Solicitors is for information only and is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice.
To hear from workers who are campaigning against blacklisting see the Blacklist Support Group blog or join the Blacklist Support Group on Facebook.
Read their response to the recently announced construction firms compensation scheme