On 28 January 1999 the Government published the Employment Relations Bill, the legislation to implement the proposals in the Fairness at Work White Paper. The Bill is the first legislative advance for working people and their trade unions for more than 20 years. It represents a shift in the balance of legal rights at the workplace.

Inevitably, there are concerns about the detail of the proposals, particularly concerning areas where changes have been made from the White Paper. However, the hostility of Conservative MPs to the Bill, as shown in the Second Reading debate on 9 February, should leave no doubt that this is legislation which represents a real opportunity for workers and trade unions.

There are 72 pages in the Bill, plus Explanatory Notes running to 258 paragraphs (covering 66 pages). Here, we summarise the main provisions of the Bill.