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Employment Law (CWU / Ruskin College)

This programme is aimed at senior activists at area, branch, regional or divisional level.

Applicants need to have completed the Union Skills 1, 2 and 3 or the Advanced Skills courses previously and be responsible for dealing with casework that requires knowledge of employment law.

The aims of the course are as follows:

  • To promote an understanding of the trade union approach to employment law.
  • To deepen and extend the capacities of learners, preparing them for union officer posts or higher education opportunities.
  • To widen and deepen understanding of trade union and workplace issues and offer up-to date details of new developments.
  • To develop personal/study skills, the ability to work collectively and improve the confidence of learners to study at a higher level.

The course is delivered via a blended distance and residential learning programme over approximately a six month period. Students will attend lectures and tutorials during 4 one week residentials and keep in touch and submit written assignments via our online learning platform Moodle.

The programme provides a thorough grounding in study skills and covers the following subject matter:

Week One – The Changing nature of employment law

  • Employment/labour law – an historical perspective
  • Sources and types of law
  • How law can be changed
  • The role of trade unions in the development of employment law
  • How the EU affects UK law
  • The role of interest groups and international organisations in the development of employment law
  • The court structure in the UK
  • European Union law and the European Court of Justice
  • The role of legal institutions and commissions

Week Two – Employment Law and Individual Rights

  • Contracts of employment – formation, the terms that make up the contract
  • Collective agreements and individual rights
  • Variation of contractual terms
  • Terminating the contract
  • The law on dismissal – wrongful, unfair and constructive dismissal
  • Rights for working parents
  • Employment protection
  • Using Approved Codes of Practice
  • The Equality Act 2010

Week Three – Trade Unions and Collective Rights

  • Trade Union Independence and listing and certification
  • Trade Union discipline and expulsion
  • Trade union Elections
  • Trade union mergers
  • Trade union political objectives, funds and ballots
  • The legal route to recognition
  • Redundancy consultation
  • TUPE
  • Industrial Action and the law

Week Four

  • Using the law in negotiations
  • Employment tribunal procedures
  • Protection for trade union activists
  • Information and consultation
  • CWU legal services
  • The future of labour law in the UK
  • Project presentations

Assessment is by evidence built by students in their portfolio and by submission of two 1,500 word essays and a 3,000 word research project, including a 20 minute presentation based on the research project using Powerpoint.

This course is designed to ensure that everyone gets the chance to participate fully through working in small groups, taking part in group discussions, role play and practical exercises as well as written assignments.


Please note that this course attracts UNPAID RELEASE from BT, Openreach, Parcelforce, Post Office Limited, ROMEC, O2 and Royal Mail Group.