Recognising and derecognising a trade union

Voluntary recognition of a trade union


As an employer, there is nothing to stop you from voluntarily agreeing to recognise one or more trade unions.

Most union recognition arrangements are established in this way. Such voluntary recognition provides maximum flexibility to the parties and avoids them having to use the alternative - potentially complex - statutory recognition procedures.

Once an employer recognises a union for the first time, the two parties will usually draw up an agreement which specifies how the recognition arrangement, and its associated bargaining processes, will work.

Formal written agreements of this kind - known as 'procedural' agreements - prevent misunderstanding and achieve continuity and consistency. As relationships develop, the parties may periodically wish to revise and update their procedural agreements. The Labour Relations Agency (LRA) can facilitate meetings to assist the parties in drafting procedural and recognition agreements.

The LRA can also provide impartial information on bargaining agreements. See LRA guidance on collective bargaining.

If you voluntarily recognise a union, you will have certain legal obligations towards the union and its members. See the consequences of trade union recognition.