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New Call For Scrutineers Of Trade Union Ballots


BIS Department for Business Innovation and Skills - Expert Author

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Issued 24 September 2009

The Department for Business has launched a public competition to identify suitable organisations to undertake and scrutinise statutory ballots and elections under trade union law.

Minister for Employment Relations, Lord Young said:

“This is important and responsible work and it is vital that trade unions and employers have the best organisations available to carry it out.

“The last public competition took place in 2002, and it is therefore timely to review the current list and to ask for new organisations to apply for independent scrutineer status”

The competition is being carried out jointly with the Northern Ireland Department for Employment and Learning (DELNI).

In order to qualify as an independent scrutineer, organisations must satisfy BIS and DELNI that they are:

· Independent and impartial - Applicants must show that they are not controlled by individual unions or potentially subject to undue commercial pressures from unions. They must adhere to the highest standards of probity and professional objectivity.

· Competent - Balloting requires attention to detail to ensure efficiency and proper conduct. Successful applicants will need to show that they fully understand the pitfalls to be avoided.

· Adequately resourced - Ballots and elections have to be held to tight timetables. Applicants will need to show that they have the staffing and other necessary resources to supervise and undertake balloting within the necessary time scale.

· Adequately experienced - Applicants will need to show that they have undertaken ballots efficiently and professionally. Alternatively, newly established organisations, or those companies new to balloting, will need to show that they employ staff with such experience.

Applications and enquiries should be made to: Glenn Harrison

Employment Relations Directorate
1 Victoria Street
London SW1H 0ET
020 7215 0945

Glenn.Harrison @

Prospective applicants can download further information from the BIS website:

Applications should be made in writing to BIS by 23 October.


1. Unions are required by law to use the services of an independent scrutineer when carrying out statutory ballots in four areas:

· industrial action ballots (involving more than 50 people);

· ballots to establish and periodically review a union’s political fund;

· ballots concerning the amalgamation of unions; and

· elections to certain trade union positions.

2. The Central Arbitration Committee (in Great Britain) and the Industrial Court (in Northern Ireland) are required by statute to use the services of qualified independent persons when carrying out trade union recognition and derecognition ballots.

3. Under the current law, only solicitors, accountants qualified to be company auditors and certain named organisations are defined as qualified to undertake these roles. Most ballots and elections in trade union law are in practice handled by the named organisations and the public competition aims to identify which named organisations should undertake this role in future.

4. Scrutineers have certain statutory functions to perform in connection with these ballots. These centre on the supervision of the ballot or election. Scrutineers must also produce a report after the ballot or election, which among other things gives the result of the vote and states whether the scrutineer is satisfied that there are no reasonable grounds for believing that the ballot was conducted in contravention of the law. It is also the usual practice for the scrutineer to act as the independent person who actually undertakes the ballot – that is, storing, distributing and counting ballot papers, and supervising the voting in a workplace ballot.

Department for Business, Innovation & Skills

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is building a dynamic and competitive UK economy by: creating the conditions for business success; promoting innovation, enterprise and science; and giving everyone the skills and opportunities to succeed. To achieve this it will foster world-class universities and promote an open global economy. BIS - Investing in our future.

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2009-09-24 11:50:53 in Legal Articles

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