What is the procedure for claiming union recognition to the Central Arbitration Committee?

The Employment Relations Act 1999 sets out a detailed procedure, with time limits, for claiming recognition on application to the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC).

The procedure, which only applies to employers employing more than 20 workers, is as follows:

  • A request for recognition is submitted, by an independent union, in writing to the employer, specifying the bargaining unit for which recognition is claimed.
  • If the request is refused or negotiations fail, a written request is sent to the CAC.
  • The CAC has to decide what the appropriate bargaining unit is.
  • The CAC then has to be satisfied that there is sufficient potential support for the union. They will require evidence of at least 10% membership in the relevant bargaining unit and need to be satisfied that a majority of workers are likely to favour recognition.
  • If the union can show it has more than 50% membership within the bargaining unit, the CAC may make a declaration that the union should be recognised. Otherwise, the CAC will authorise a ballot amongst all those in the relevant bargaining unit.
  • A declaration will be made in favour of recognition if there is a majority vote in favour and at least 40% of those eligible to vote, vote in favour.
Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.