The UK Rules

HomeUK RulesEmploymentWorkingTrade Unions › Derecognise a Union

Derecognising (Removing) a Trade Union

There are several reasons why an employer or a worker will apply to have a union derecognised (e.g. discontinue negotiating on their behalf).

This help guide explains how to derecognise a trade union in situations where the number of employees falls or it loses its support.

When Can Employers and Workers Apply?

The two methods of recognising membership-based trade unions to represent their members in company negotiations (e.g. on pay structure) are:

Following a CAC declaration of recognition, employers and workers must wait three years before they can apply to have the trade union derecognised.

A successful application would mean the union ceases to represent the workforce in any of their negotiations with the employer.

Once a declaration by the Central Arbitration Committee has been made, employers can apply to derecognise a union in any of these three situations:

Likewise, employees can also make an application to have a union derecognised if the workers in the bargaining unit lose support for the union and no longer want their representation.

In situations where the majority of workers lose support, they can also apply to have a non-independent union derecognised (see below).

If the Workforce Falls Below 21

Employers can only apply to the Central Arbitration Committee to have a trade union derecognised if (both):

The employer would need to provide written notice to the union asking for it to be derecognised. This must take place within five (5) days of the end of the relevant 13-week period and include:

Furthermore, a copy of the letter sent to the union needs to go to the CAC (who will confirm whether it is valid - or not - within ten days).

Central Arbitration Committee
22nd Floor, Euston Tower
286 Euston Road
London
NW1 3JJ

If the Written Notice is Valid

The Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) will derecognise the trade union if your notice is valid and there will be no requirement for the employer to negotiate with them any longer.

Exceptions apply, such as when a union makes an application to the CAC in cases where they believe (either):

Important: Employers must continue with current collective bargaining arrangements if the notice isn't valid.

If the Trade Union Loses Support

Employers and workers can get a union derecognised in situations where the workers in the bargaining unit no longer support it. In essence, that means they no longer want the union to negotiate on their behalf.

Asking a Union to Derecognise Voluntarily

You can ask the union to voluntarily derecognise by sending them a written request. The letter must state what the current arrangements of the union are and that you:

The union should respond to the request within ten (10) working days. Assuming they accept, you can end the existing bargaining arrangements and thus, derecognise the union.

If a Union Agrees to Negotiate

In some cases, a union will reject the request but agree to take part in further negotiations. If this happens, the parties have an extra twenty (20) working days to seek an agreement about trade union derecognition.

Note: During this period, either side can ask Acas to help resolve the dispute (and extend the negotiation period if the union agrees to it).

If a Union Rejects the Request

What if the union fails to respond to your request or decides to reject it? If this happens, you can apply to the Central Arbitration Committee to hold a secret ballot of the workers to determine whether they support union derecognition, providing (both).

The employer would need to complete 'paragraph 106 application form' and provide supporting evidence (e.g. workplace surveys) that shows (both):

Note: You must send the completed form along with your supporting documentation to the CAC (address above) and a copy to the union.

The Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) will consider your application within ten (10) working days and may ask you to attend a hearing. A successful application means they will arrange a secret ballot of workers (see further details below). But, you would need to continue negotiating with the union if the application fails.

If Union Membership is Under 50%

Another method of derecognising a trade union can occur if the level of membership in the bargaining unit falls to a figure less than 50%.

To do so, the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) must have declared recognition without a ballot over three (3) years ago to derecognise the union.

But, employers can only apply to the CAC and ask them to hold a secret ballot of employees on whether to end collective bargaining, if (both):

Asking a Union to 'Voluntarily' Derecognise

Employers can ask the union to voluntarily derecognise by sending a written request to them, stating the current bargaining arrangements (e.g. how many workers are in the unit and where they work) with notification that:

The union should respond to the request within ten (10) working days. Assuming they accept, you can end the existing bargaining arrangements and thus, derecognise the union.

If the Union Wants to Negotiate

As a rule, both sides have ten (10) days to try and negotiate an agreement about trade union derecognition. If the union agrees to it, you will be able to extend the negotiation period.

If the Union Rejects Your Request

Employers can apply to the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) for them to hold a secret ballot of the workers to determine support for derecognition

Send 'paragraph 106 application form' and provide supporting evidence (e.g. workplace surveys) along with your supporting documentation to the CAC (address above) and forward a copy to the relevant union.

The Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) will consider your application within ten (10) working days and may ask you to attend a hearing. A successful application means they will arrange a secret ballot of workers (see further details below). But, you would need to continue negotiating with the union if the application fails.

Derecognising a Non-Independent Union

A non-independent union is one that represents employees but does not have a certificate of independence from the Certification Officer (e.g. recognised voluntarily by an employer).

Employees (or a group of workers) can apply to the CAC to get a non-independent union derecognised - any time after the employer has recognised the union.

How to Apply for a Secret Ballot

You would need to complete the 'application under part VI of schedule A1' to ask the CAC to hold a secret ballot of workers. Doing so will determine whether they agree to derecognise the union.

One of the employees in the bargaining unit would need to complete and sign the application form, and provide some evidence showing that (both):

Note: You must send the completed form along with your supporting documentation to the CAC (address above) and a copy to the union.

After Sending an Application

The Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) will consider your application within ten (10) working days and may ask you to attend a hearing. Following that, they will (either):

Participating in the Negotiations

One of the principle roles of the CAC is helping all parties to reach an agreement. They can choose to extend the 20-day negotiation period (if no one opposes it) to reach one of the following outcomes:

Holding a Derecognition Ballot

It is common for employers, workers, and trade union to use negotiations to reach agreement. But, if it fails the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) will hold a secret ballot to try and solve the dispute.

The CAC will inform everyone involved - in writing - about their intention to hold a secret ballot and how it works. The process allows workers in the bargaining unit to vote on derecognition.

How Secret Ballots Work

A qualified independent person (QIP), appointed by CAC, usually conducts the ballot within twenty (20) working days. There may be valid reasons for the CAC to extend this deadline.

The QIP has the responsibility of providing an estimate for the cost to run the ballot. Following that, the CAC will consult with the employer and the union to determine the arrangements.

Important: The employer and the trade union will share the final cost of running the ballot (equally). The Code of Practice found on the GOV.UK website explains more about access and unfair practices during recognition and a derecognition ballot.

Complaining about a Lack of Co-Operation

If you believe someone is failing to co-operate with the preparation of the ballot you can make a complaint to the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC).

Likewise, the trade union can also complain to the CAC if the employer fails to fulfill their duties during the actual ballot.

As a rule, an investigation by the CAC will result in a 'remedial order' which demands that all sides carry out their duties accordingly. Ignoring a remedial order means CAC may declare the derecognition of the union - or cancel the ballot altogether.

How to Complain about Unfair Practices

If another party uses unfair practices to influence a ballot (e.g. bribery or making threats) you can complain to the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC).

You would need to fill in an application form and send it to the address written on the document. The deadline for sending it is any time before the end of the day that the ballot closes.

If the Central Arbitration Committee finds evidence of unfair practices being used, they can reschedule the ballot or:

After the Ballot Closes

As a rule, you get the result of the vote around forty eight hours after the closing of the ballot. To derecognise a union, those who voted in favour of ending the bargaining arrangements must be (both):

Note: After the ballot takes place, the CAC will either refuse the application for derecognition or they will declare the union as derecognised.

Payment for Derecognition Ballots

The QIP will demand equal share of the costs for running the ballot from the employer and the trade union. The parties get fifteen (15) days to pay it. But, either side can appeal to an employment tribunal if they dispute the amount owing.

Employer Responsibilities and Duties

Employers do not have to work with a derecognised trade union. But, they do need to continue working with a union if the CAC refuses an application for derecognition.

Note: You would need to wait for the trade union to be derecognised for three (3) years before making another application.


Apply to Have a Union Derecognised in the United Kingdom

© 2020 | ALL RULES | CONTACT | PRIVACY | SITEMAP