What is union recognition?

If enough members join together the workplace union can start to work more effectively to help everyone and not just individuals. A trade union is said to be recognised when an employer has agreed to negotiate with it on pay and working conditions on behalf of a particular group of workers. The subsequent negotiation process is known as collective bargaining, with the group of workers the union represents referred to as the bargaining unit.


Employers are not obliged to bargain with unions. They can voluntarily recognise a union or a union can gain statutory recognition by meeting certain criteria and applying to the Central Arbitration Committee.


How to get recognition

To make a successful claim for recognition, you and your colleagues must demonstrate that there is strong support for the process. The easiest way to do this is by getting as many people as possible to join the union. There are some key thresholds – for statutory recognition your employer needs to employ 21 or more staff.


Many recognition agreements are voluntary, but if your employer is reluctant to recognise a union voluntarily then it is possible to achieve recognition using a formal legal process known as statutory recognition.


To start any recognition campaign the first step is to have more than 10% of members in a workplace. You have the best chance of success when membership reaches 50% or more.