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Trade Union Certification and Recognition

Trade Union Certification and Recognition

If there is union involvement in any of your workplaces, there are legal consequences that affect your dealings with individual union members and officials and with the unions themselves as organisations.

The Meaning of Certification and Recognition: Most union rights apply only to recognised, independent trade unions. A union will be certified as independent if it is not employer-linked. It is considered to be recognised by the employer if there is a recognition agreement between union and employer for collective bargaining purposes.

Statutory Recognition: Workers are entitled to have a trade union recognised where a majority of the workers concerned support the union, evidenced if a ballot shows that a majority of the workers voting and at least 40% of those eligible to vote support recognition.

There is a statutory procedure for union recognition (and deregonition) applicable to companies with more than 20 workers. Compulsory recognition of unions is limited to negotiations relating to pay (not including pensions), hours of work and holiday.

Immunity: In broad terms, recognised, independent unions are immune from being sued for industrial action for: conduct which might otherwise be a tort. However, the industrial action must be for a legitimate reason; in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute; supported by a majority voting in favour of the action by ballot; and that ballot must have been acted upon within 28 days.

Consultation Rights: In addition, such recognised, independent unions may be entitled to consultation in relation to redundancies and transfers of undertakings. In addition, these rights apply where the employee is considering contracting out of the state pension scheme. Employers are now required to inform and consult unions recognised under the the statutory procedure on their training policies and plans.

Other Union Rights: Such unions also have the right: to hold a secret ballot at the employer's premises; to appoint employee safety representatives; and to be provided with financial and trading information about the employer's business for collective bargaining purposes.

Individual Members' Rights: Many of the rights granted to individuals (except in the case of a transfer of undertaking or redundancies) are also limited to members of recognised independent trade unions.

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