There are a number of mandatory requirements for ballot papers. Failure to comply may invalidate the ballot.
Section 229 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 sets out the information which must be included on the voting paper. Each voting paper must:
- state the name of the independent scrutineer;
- clearly specify the address to which, and the date by which, it is to be returned;
- be given one of a series of consecutive whole numbers and be marked with its number;
- specify who – in the event of a vote in favour of industrial action – is authorised to call on union members to take part or continue to take part in the action;
- contain the following mandatory statement:
‘If you take part in a strike or other industrial action, you may be in breach of your contract of employment. However, if you are dismissed for taking part in a strike or other industrial action which is called officially and is otherwise lawful, the dismissal will be unfair if it takes place fewer than twelve weeks after you started taking part in the action, and depending on the circumstances may be unfair if it takes place later.’; and
- contain at least one of the two following ‘appropriate’ questions:
i. Are you prepared to take part (or continue to take part) in a strike?
ii. Are you prepared to take part (or continue to take part) in industrial action short of a strike?
If the ballot form is missing any of the above information, it will be invalid and you will have grounds for seeking an interim injunction [link to Getting an Injunction].