Q&As

May an employer, when approached with a request for recognition, choose not to recognise the trade union, and what considerations are relevant when it comes to deciding how best to respond a request for recognition?

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Published on LexisPSL on 21/01/2020

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

  • May an employer, when approached with a request for recognition, choose not to recognise the trade union, and what considerations are relevant when it comes to deciding how best to respond a request for recognition?

May an employer, when approached with a request for recognition, choose not to recognise the trade union, and what considerations are relevant when it comes to deciding how best to respond a request for recognition?

The statutory framework governing trade union recognition supports voluntary arrangements in the first instance. This means that an employer is technically at liberty to refuse a request for voluntary recognition when it is initially presented. The employer should, however, be aware that, where the trade union in question meets relevant threshold, and other, criteria it may, if the employer refuses to negotiate over recognition, seek compulsory statutory recognition through the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) for the purpose of collective bargaining.

Recognition referrals to the CAC are subject to complex procedures, and can be costly in industrial relations, as well as financial, terms. From an employer’s point of view, there is also the potential prospect that the CAC may ultimately:

  1. determine the bargaining unit (if agreement cannot be reached between the parties)

  2. declare the union recognised as entitled to conduct collective bargaining on behalf of the workers in that bargaining unit, and even

  3. specify the method for collective bargaining

Accordingly, in relation to a trade union that is likely to have a statutory right to be recognised, an employer may choose for strategic reasons to consider it astute to recognise voluntarily before any

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