Following action by the Information Commissioner to shut down a blacklist of construction workers in March this year on the basis of data protection law, there has been much speculation as to whether the practice of blacklisting will be outlawed generally.

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson has today announced that the Government intends to introduce new regulations to prevent union members being victimised at work or denied access to employment due to blacklists. This is likely to make unlawful the compiling, dissemination or use of prohibited lists subject to certain limited exceptions. Consultation on the proposed regulations will be launched in early summer.

Whilst the unions welcome this announcement, it is notable that the proposed regulations will only apply to trade union activities or membership.

Does this mean that other blacklisting (say for example on the grounds of marital status or nationality) is therefore acceptable? Even if there are no specific regulations general principles still apply and other forms of blacklisting are unlawful to the extent that any such action breaches the Data Protection Act 1998 or allows prospective employers to discriminate against candidates.

BERR news release

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The original publication date for this article was 11/05/2009.