Trade Unions

Effective working with trade unions requires specialist expertise across communication, collaboration and compliance. We can support with managing trade union relations.


If your organisation recognises a trade union, you will be under certain duties to notify and consult with a trade union, including instances of collective redundancies, transfers of business ownership and certain changes to pension schemes.

Failure to inform or consult can impact workforce relations and result in financial penalties.

Whether you are negotiating working conditions, for example pay and holiday, discussing changes to your employees’ terms and conditions (‘collective bargaining’) or responding to threats of strike action, industrial relations require a clear process framework, skilful handling and clarity of objectives for your organisation.

Working with trade unions

Working with trade unions requires knowledge not just of the legal rules and procedures, it also requires consideration of the reputational risks of mishandling negotiations or a dispute. Further issues for employers include:

  • Collective agreements – A clear and up to date collective agreement will provide the most effective framework for governing the relationship and setting expectations as to union involvement and engagement.
  • Proactive  It is possible to make voluntary agreements with unions to regularly inform and consult them about business and workplace issues.
  • Clear strategy – Ensure management is agreed and clear on the strategy to take in any trade union negotiation or dispute. U-turns under pressure will undermine future negotiation position. It is important to mean what you say. The stance taken by an organisation in any negotiation or dispute will influence perception and reception in future dealings.
  • Political agenda – Consider the wider political agenda driving the union position. This will heavily influence the prospects of achieving compromises.

Need assistance with trade union relations? We can help

DavidsonMorris can support organisational management and HR professionals working with trade unions to manage relations and specific industrial issues.

We can provide ongoing guidance to help improve relations with employee representatives. We also support with negotiations for routine matters and in cases of immediate industrial relations issues or threats of action.

We can provide guidance on:

  • Information to provide before collective bargaining eg company profits, assets and liabilities
  • Notifying and consulting about major organisational changes
  • Negotiating working conditions
  • Running the check off
  • Time off rules for union related activities
  • Prevent discrimination against employees for union membership
  • Applications for unions recognition and derecognition
  • Dealing with the threat of / challenging industrial action
  • Use of injunctions

Contact us for specialist advice. 

Contact DavidsonMorris
Get in touch with DavidsonMorris for general enquiries, feedback and requests for information.
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