Industrial action—guidance for employers

The following Employment practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Industrial action—guidance for employers
  • Conciliation
  • Withdrawal of pay
  • Injunctive relief
  • Damages
  • Dismissal

Industrial action—guidance for employers

Industrial action is potentially very disruptive for an employer’s business. Hopefully, a union will use industrial action as a last resort, and other solutions will be found instead to any collective trade disputes between the employer and its workers.

However, in some instances, employers will face at least a serious threat of industrial action, whether in the form of a strike or some action short of a strike. In those circumstances, the employer has a number of options:


An employer faced with industrial action may seek to reach a conciliated solution, with the assistance of Acas if appropriate.

Withdrawal of pay

If workers take strike action, the employer is not obliged to pay them for the period they refuse to work. If they take action short of a strike which involves them failing to perform their full contractual duties, they may lose their entitlement to full contractual remuneration until they return to full duties.

Injunctive relief

Industrial action which involves the withdrawal of labour by at least part of an employer’s workforce will almost always amount to a breach of the workers’ contracts of employment. Other industrial action, such as a go-slow or work to rule, may amount to a breach of contract by the workers, depending on the circumstances.

A trade union that organises industrial action will in many circumstances commit one of the so-called economic or

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