Government to end union fee payments


The government plans to end state-run trade union subscription payments for all public sector workers.

Under the current employer-administered process, known as ‘check off’, subscriptions are taken directly from the salaries of public sector employees that are union members.

Following the removal of this practice, staff will instead pay union subscriptions by direct debit.

The change is aimed at modernising the payment process, providing employees with greater control over union subscriptions, and reducing the administrative burden on employers.

Legislation in the Trade Union Bill will be updated to facilitate the removal of check off across public sector organisations.

The process has already been abolished in some central government departments, including the Home Office, HM Revenue and Customs and the Ministry of Defence.

Matt Hancock, Cabinet Office minister, said: “In the twenty-first century era of direct debits and digital payments, public resources should not be used to support the collection of trade union subscriptions.

“It’s time to get rid of this out-dated practice and modernise the relationship between trade unions and their members.

“By ending check off, we are bringing greater transparency to employees, making it easier for them to choose whether or not to pay subscriptions and which union to join.”

Paul Nowak, assistant general secretary at the Trades Union Congress (TUC), added: “If payroll payment for union membership was outdated, it would not be popular with so many of the UK’s biggest and most successful private [organisations].”

Mark Serwotka, general secretary at the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), said: “The system is long established and efficient and used by some of the UK’s largest [organisations] and civil service charities.

“Where removal has already been imposed in the civil service, it has been done to arbitrary and ludicrously tight deadlines, driven by a political agenda.”