Recognising and derecognising a trade union

Voluntary trade union recognition within the statutory procedure


If, during the statutory trade union recognition procedure, you voluntarily agree to recognise a union, it may withdraw its request for statutory recognition.

Alternatively, if the union had made an application to the Industrial Court, you and the union - 'the parties' - may have jointly asked the Industrial Court to take no further action.

However, this must happen before the Industrial Court either makes a declaration that the union is entitled to recognition without a ballot, or arranges a recognition ballot. See statutory recognition of a trade union - starting the procedure.

This type of agreement is known as an agreement for recognition or a semi-voluntary agreement. It is not the same as a voluntary agreement made outside the statutory procedure.

Once an agreement for recognition has been reached, the parties must enter into negotiations on collective bargaining arrangements.

If they can't agree on an appropriate method, either party may apply to the Industrial Court for help. The Industrial Court can assist if it is satisfied that there is an 'agreement for recognition' as defined in the legislation.

If the parties still fail to reach agreement, the Industrial Court will impose a method for collective bargaining.

Duration of recognition

Once you have agreed to recognise a trade union for collective bargaining purposes, the union may terminate the agreement at any time, unless you have previously agreed with the union to the contrary.

You may not terminate the agreement for a period of three years unless you have agreed with the union to the contrary.

For the circumstances under which a union may become derecognised, see statutory derecognition of a trade union - an introduction.

If the agreement becomes difficult to maintain, either party can apply to the LRA to help it resolve the difficulties.

    • LRA Workplace Information Service
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    • Department for the Economy