I have come across a situation where a Company in the hospitality sector with over 120 staff members does not have a trade union representing the staff. No formal agreement is in place. Having said that, a staff member in this Company has approached a trade union of their own accord and asked the Trade Union to represent them with regard to an issue with the Company. The Trade Union has stated in a letter to the Company that they are acting in an "individual capacity" and intend to represent the staff member in question at an external hearing. My questions are: 1. Can the Company refuse to recognise the Trade Union acting in an individual capacity? 2. Can the Company be forced to recognise the Trade Union?

Posted in : First Tuesday Q&A NI on 3 March 2015
Arthur Cox
Arthur Cox
Issues covered:

1. The fact that the union is not recognised does not affect the employee’s statutory right to be accompanied by an official union representative. Therefore, in answer to your first question, you cannot refuse the representation request.

2. Yes, provided certain conditions are met. In summary, a trade union may seek recognition in an organisation by voluntary or statutory means. Usually, an independent trade union that wishes to be recognised as entitled to conduct collective bargaining on behalf of a group of workers will seek recognition by negotiation with the employer.This is the voluntary method to gain recognition without the use of any legal procedures.

Voluntary recognition

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Back to Q&A's This article is correct at 02/09/2015

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

Arthur Cox
Arthur Cox

The main content of this article was provided by Arthur Cox. Contact telephone number is +44 28 9026 2673 or email rosemary.lundy@arthurcox.com

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