What are the potential consequences of an employer failing to comply with the provisions of the Acas code of practice on time off for trade union duties and activities?

Under s.199 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992, Acas is under a duty to provide guidance regarding time off for trade union duties and activities. The Acas code of practice on time off for trade union duties and activities, issued pursuant to s.199, is admissible in the employment tribunal as evidence. Therefore, if a union representative or member complains that an employer has not afforded him or her the appropriate time off, the tribunal will take into account the relevant provisions of the code when deciding the matter, for example when deciding whether or not a request for time off was reasonable. If the employer can show that it considered and followed the code its case will be stronger than if it cannot.

While the code is important and can be considered by the tribunal, it is not in itself legislation. Proceedings cannot be brought against an employer or employee solely for failing to follow the code.