Q&As

In relation to collective agreements, i an employer has recognised more than one trade union, does each recognised trade union have to sign the collective agreement in order for it to be effective? Can workers who are not members of a trade union enter into a workforce agreement, even if a collective agreement is in place? Can a collective agreement and a workforce agreement be in place at the same time?

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Published on LexisPSL on 14/09/2020

The following Employment Q&A provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • In relation to collective agreements, i an employer has recognised more than one trade union, does each recognised trade union have to sign the collective agreement in order for it to be effective? Can workers who are not members of a trade union enter into a workforce agreement, even if a collective agreement is in place? Can a collective agreement and a workforce agreement be in place at the same time?
  • Statutory collective agreement
  • Enforceability
  • Workforce agreements

For information on collective agreements generally, see:

  1. Practice Note: Collective agreements

  2. Collective agreements: Harvey NI [3201]

Statutory collective agreement

There are three main elements to the statutory definition of ‘collective agreement’ in section 178(1) of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 (TULR(C)A 1992):

  1. there must be an agreement or arrangement

  2. the agreement or arrangement must be made by or on behalf of one or more trade unions and one or more employers or employers' associations, and

  3. the agreement or arrangement must relate to one or more of the matters specified in TULR(C)A 1992, s 178(2)

There is nothing in the legislation to say that:

  1. in order for a collective agreement to be entered into, the trade union must be recognised, or

  2. if there is more than one recognised trade union, all the trade unions recognised by the employer must be party to the collective agreement

Enforceability

A collective agreement may or may not be legally enforceable; in general terms, it might be described as an agreement reached between a union and an employer as a result of collective bargaining. Such a collective agreement is not usually enforceable as a matter of law. The sanc

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