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Is your business prepared for Trade Union recognition?

In recent weeks, we have seen national strikes carried out by rail workers and criminal barristers and we expect to see further strike action as there are suggestions that other sectors, such as education and health care may also vote for industrial action.

The coming months

Over the coming months, we may also find more employees taking up membership of a Trade Union to seek protection from their employment. Trade Unions look after the interests of employees and workers and therefore being a member provides the employee/worker with legal protection to not be dismissed or treated unfairly by their employee.

In addition, employers may also begin to receive requests from Trade Union’s seeking recognition. Under the Employment Relations Act 1999 (ERA), there are provisions on trade union recognition (and de-recognition) that an employer must abide by. But is your business prepared should it receive a request?

Trade Union recognition

For a Trade Union to become recognised it must do so voluntarily by writing to the employer setting out in writing their name, which employees they are seeking to represent (known as the bargaining unit) and confirm that it is making the request under Schedule A1 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

Should the voluntary request be accepted then both parties can commence collective bargaining. Collective bargaining covers the terms and conditions of those job roles that have been defined as the ‘bargaining unit’. It is for the Employer and Trade Union to negotiate which terms will be in scope of collective bargaining.

If voluntary recognition is not accepted by the employer, the Trade Union, if it wishes, can apply for statutory recognition to the Centre Arbitration Committee (CAC).

The process for dealing with a request for recognition is complex and length; it can take at least six months deal with, during which time, an employer must give considerable thought as to how they deal with the trade union in question as well as ensuring good employee relations with the workforce itself.

Further information

If you would like further information on how HR Solutions can help your business in dealing with either a union recognition request or general advice on how to best work with your unions, then please contact us or call 0844 324 5840 to speak to a member of our team.

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