Recognition agreements

Anyone can join a trade union, and you don’t have to be in a recognised workplace to receive the benefits and support of union membership.

However, having a recognition agreement allows a union to bargain on behalf of employees on things like pay and terms and conditions. It can also make the union stronger in the workplace as union Reps would be entitled to time off to complete their duties.

Did you know? Workplaces where unions are recognised have on average 8% higher pay than those workplaces where there is no union recognition.

What is a recognition agreement?

A recognition agreement is contract between a union and employer. This allows the union to negotiate with the employer on pay and working conditions on behalf of workers. This process is known as collective bargaining.

A recognition agreement provides the framework for positive industrial relations within an organisation. It should cover:

  • The purpose of the agreement
  • Basic principles
  • The union(s) that is recognised
  • The scope of the agreement
  • Structure of representation
  • Facilities offered as part of recognition (such as time for reps to undertake union activities)
  • Disputes (timetables of meetings to deal with collective disputes)
  • Review and termination of the agreement.
Why have a recognition agreement?

There are numerous benefits to having a recognition agreement in place. Benefits include:

  • Being able to negotiate on terms and conditions (including pay, hours worked and holidays).
  • Improved policies and company procedures on flexible working and employee health.
  • Recognised unions have a statutory right to be provided with information from the employer that will enable it meaningfully to engage in collective bargaining.
  • Gives workers the right to withdraw their labour as a last resort if negotiations fail.
  • Ensuring that every employee’s voice is heard when implementing changes in the workplace.
Do I have to be in a recognised union to benefit from Community’s services?

No. Whilst recognition does allow unions to negotiate on behalf of employees, all union members receive the other benefits of Community membership. This includes legal advice and support, representation, and member discounts.

You can see our membership offer here.

Can more than one union be recognised in my workplace?

Yes. Multiple unions can be recognised in a workplace, and this is common in larger organisations.

If a union doesn’t have recognition in a workplace but another union does, the union that already has recognition would have to agree to another union being recognised.

Is Community recognised in my workplace?

Community is the recognised union in hundreds of workplaces across the UK across the many sectors that we represent.

If you are unsure whether Community is recognised in your workplace, contact us here.

How do I get Community recognised in my workplace?  

Most trade union recognition is reached voluntarily by the union requesting recognition from the employer and this being accepted. This is the best way to go about it for all parties, as it means industrial relations start on a positive footing.

However, in organisations with more than 21 employees, workers can apply for statutory recognition from the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC), bypassing the need for employer approval.

For this to be successful, those applying must prove that more than 10% of employees are union members, that they are likely to be in favour of recognition and that there is not another trade union already in place.

If you are interested in helping us to organise for a recognition agreement between Community and your employer, please fill out the below information:

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If you need help or advice, please contact us at or on 0800 389 6332.

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