HR Improve - Employee Relations: How to effectively engage with employee forums / trade unions 

November, 2023 - Shoosmiths LLP

Watch the webinar video and study our key takeaway points from our latest seminar focused on Employee relations.

Our 2023 webinar programme is focused on supporting HR teams to improve the effectiveness and productivity of the organisations they work for, equipping them to best handle key issues and improve their business through reducing their risk, developing their talent and future proofing their organisation #HRImprove. 

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The key takeaway points are set out below

Voluntary recognition

  • An employer agrees to recognise a trade union for collective bargaining purposes in respect of a defined group of workers
  • The terms are negotiated between the employer and union and are normally recorded in a written agreement. Usually, the agreement can be ended on giving notice
  • The main advantage of voluntary recognition is that it avoids the complex statutory process for recognition. The employer can have more say in the extent of the union’s influence under the agreement
  • If entering into a voluntary agreement, ensure it is precise and carefully drafted to avoid disputes later.

Statutory recognition

  • Trade unions can apply to the CAC to be recognised by an employer for collective bargaining over pay, hours, and holidays for workers in a specified bargaining unit
  • There are numerous technical requirements to meet in the statutory recognition process
  • If you receive a formal request for recognition, seek immediate legal advice as timescales for compliance with the statutory process are tight.

Practical tips for effective engagement

  • Review the existing situation
  • Understand the scope of any collective agreement you have in place
  • Consider the politics
  • Be careful of what you say in written communications, from emails to WhatsApp messages
  • Take care when drafting a voluntary agreement to avoid disputes in the future
  • Develop a road map of potential outcomes and strategies
  • Consider involving others higher up the union if relationships with the local rep deteriorate.


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