MSL Regulations: what do they mean for the rail sector? 

February, 2024 - Shoosmiths LLP

In December, the Government published MSL Regulations, together with guidance, specifying the minimum number of workers needed to operate public services in times of strike action; for more detail, please see our recent article.

With the dispute between the ASLEF train drivers’ union and UK train operators still ongoing, industrial action has now been announced to take place between 30 January and 5 February, with significant disruption expected.

How will the MSL Regulations affect planned industrial action in 2024?

The MSL Regulations apply to any industrial action in the rail sector that occurs after 8 December 2023, whether notice of the strike had been given prior to this date, or if the strike ballot date was prior to the introduction of the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act 2023, in July 2023. The MSL Regulations in relation to rail set the minimum service levels required to operate at the equivalent of 40% of the expected normal service. 

What are the risks if minimum service levels are set?

The introduction of the MSL Regulations imposes additional duties on employers and trade unions; trade unions need to give notice of strike action and employers need to issue work notices to workers who are caught by minimum service level provisions. In the rail sector, this could prompt problems over which drivers are selected to work, depending on which routes are running and the level of expertise required to provide this service.

Furthermore, the government proposes to revise the Code of Practice in regard to picketing; a union must take reasonable steps to ensure compliance of its members affected by the work notice, and it is likely therefore that the union will need to revise its approach to picketing to remain compliant with the MSL Regulations. This requires an enhanced level of communication between employers and trade unions, and tensions may well be heightened due to the imposition of minimum service levels, at government level. Both parties must therefore try to maintain good relationships, working together to ensure that their services operate in a safe manner, and to ensure they remain compliant with the MSL Regulations.


Link to article


WSG Member: Please login to add your comment.