Union recognition means an acknowledgement by the employer that a union has the right to represent and/or negotiate on behalf of its members in the workforce in a variety of situations.
Many employers are prepared to recognise unions where there is significant support among the workforce.
If the employer agrees to recognise the union there will usually be a collective agreement setting out:
- which categories or grades of worker are covered;
- how union representatives (e.g. shop stewards) are to be elected;
- what matters (e.g. pay and hours) the parties can negotiate about; and
- what union facilities (such as office space, use of telephones, time off, etc.) are available.
Where the employer refuses to recognise a union and there is sufficient support, the union may ask the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) to investigate with a view to requiring the employer to recognise it under the Employment Relations Act 1999 through a process known as 'statutory recognition'.