Trade union regulator, the Certification Officer, will be given new powers to investigate complaints made by non-members with no affiliation to the trade union in question.
Further, the cost of these investigations will be levied against the trade unions themselves.
These proposals were passed in the Trade Union Act 2016 but had not yet been brought into force. Finally responding to two four-year-old consultations on the issue this week, the government confirmed its plans to go ahead.
Concerns have been raised that the new powers will be exploited by those ideologically opposed to trade unions, who will now be able to make vexatious or spurious complaints.
The Certification Officer can investigate breaches of statutory duties, which include allowing someone with a criminal record to hold a senior position, mismanaging political funds, failing to hold elections where required, refusing to allow access to accounting records when requested, and refusing to comply during investigations by the regulator into potential wrongdoing.
In order to fund the costs of these new powers, most trade unions will be charged a levy of 2.5% of their annual income.
The new laws will come into force from April 2022.