Introduction to this document

Trade union recognition agreement


Use this agreement where you have voluntarily agreed to recognise a union.  Although not strictly necessary to have a written document, it is useful to do so and will make it clear what has been agreed.



It would be unusual (and generally inadvisable) for the parties to make the agreement legally enforceable, although this is an option if the parties desire it. The Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 provides that a recognition agreement is presumed not to be legally enforceable unless it is in writing and contains a provision that the parties intend it to be legally enforceable. There are limited exceptions to this rule. Remedy for breach of a collective agreement therefore normally lies in industrial action.



The duration of a voluntary agreement is entirely discretionary. A “semi-voluntary” agreement will have a minimum duration of three years, unless the parties are able to agree otherwise.


What should be included?

With regard to collective bargaining, most collective agreements will refer to recognition in respect of pay, hours and holiday as these are the matters the union would be entitled to bargain on if compulsory recognition was successfully sought via the CAC. However, parties who are negotiating a voluntary agreement may exclude these matters by agreement and agree to bargain on other items instead. Alternatively, additional matters may be included by agreement, or the parties may agree to consult (but not negotiate) on them.


Recognition for the matters referred to in this agreement will automatically give rise to the trade union being entitled to be consulted on the following other matters:

  • collective redundancies
  • the transfer of an undertaking
  • change to occupational pension scheme; and
  • health and safety.


Check off

We include a clause which allows the deduction of union subscriptions from wage. This concept is known as “check-off”. An employer is not obliged to do this. However, should the employer choose to do so, it must obtain written consent from the worker concerned before making any deductions in order to avoid a breach of contract or unlawful deduction from wages claim.  Note that the Trade Union Act 2016 contains provisions which, in relation to certain public sectors, only allows check off to be operated if the union meets the employer's administrative cost and workers also have the option to pay subscriptions to their trade union by other means.