Before any industrial action or other significant trade union ballot, such as a strike ballot, an indicative or consultation ballot may be undertaken to gauge member interest in the topic concerned. Indicative or consultative ballots are undertaken as a formal ballot is costly, due to being covered by legislation which forces a trade union to use a postal paper ballot or workplace ballot.

The result of the consultation ballot (which is not legally binding) gives the Trade Union an indication if any formal ballot process is required, saving both time and money if not.

As there is no legislation prescribing the method in which the ballot is undertaken, the most cost-effective and quickest option for a trade union is 100% digital processes using secure, online voting. In most cases, it has also been proven to increase voter turnout when internet voting is utilised.

Communication with members

To run a digital consultation ballot with one member and one vote, the trade union may employ a 3rd party independent scrutineer to remove any perceived bias from the process. An online secure voting site will be set up with members being sent unique, one-time-only use, voting credentials to access the ballot.

The one-time use credential will not allow for any double voting.

Members can be sent credentials via email or SMS text (whichever is the cheapest option) or via a 1-page letter, detailing the voting website details and voting credentials to be used.


Using a 3rd party independent scrutineer to ensure independence will be an essential consideration to ensure no perceived bias in any consultative result, especially if there are sensitive issues around the consultation topic.

The scrutineer will communicate the voting credentials directly with the member and will provide the result of the consultation to the trade union after the voting process has been completed.

Support is also provided directly to the voting member if needed for any technical issues. Also, the trade union will be supported with voter turnout details during the voting period.

As voting member contact details will be needed, the independent scrutineer will be required to put a GDPR agreement in place before any information is passed over securely, using a secure, encrypted data transfer system.


Online consultations can be a quick and cost-effective way to gauge member interest in trade union topics The use of an independent scrutineer will ensure the process is fully managed and trusted before any legislative process is undertaken.

UK Engage

UK Engage are a Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy  (BEIS)  approved Independent Scrutineer for Trade Union ballots and offer fully managed secure online voting solutions for consultative ballot processes. Contact us or call on 0161 209 4808 to discuss your needs.



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