Freedom of Association

How to comply 1 - what it looks like in practice

Freedom of Association for all workers


  • Ensure that there is nothing in your recruiting, promotion, transfer or training practices that requires employees to be members or non-members of a union. This may include refusing to recruit people who are members of a union, or forcing staff to join a union in order to be employed.
  • Review your interview questions to make sure you do not ask workers about union membership as this could be seen as a way of discriminating against workers. Once you have offered a worker a job, you should then ask them if they are a member of a union so you can make provision for this.

Joining a union

  • Ensure that you do not have any working practices that could hinder an employee’s right to join a union; this may include not allowing workers access to worker representatives.
  • If you have a union on site, you can only inform workers of its presence, you cannot force workers to join the union.

Working practices

  • Ensure that union representatives have access to workers.

Make sure that you do not act in a way that is detrimental to the employee because of their union membership. This can include suspending the worker, cutting his or her pay, moving them to new duties, or failing to give them a pay rise.

Activities of unions

  • Make sure that you allow all union members sufficient time off to take part in union activities – this may be during their normal rest periods where appropriate. Union activities may include organising meetings, representing or accompanying workers in disciplinary hearings and meeting with management to discuss issues.
  • Make sure that union officials are paid for their official duties, and given sufficient time in which to conduct them.
Communicate these requirements to people who are responsible for
  • managing workers so they know union officials may need time off to carry out the above activities. They will need to make plans for this time out in the production schedule.

It is advisable to discuss with union representatives, the kind of notice you will need for their time off so you can make provision for this within the work schedule.

Communication with workers

  • If you employ more than 50 staff, you must have a system that allows you and your management team to engage in meaningful dialogue with your workers on issues that affect their working lives. This includes pay, hours and all other matters mentioned under this heading.

Check pay records

  • If a representative has time off for official duties, they must be paid for this time at their normal hourly rate. If they are paid by the piece, use their average hourly rate.

Now take the next step through: Freedom of Association and the Rght to Collective Bargaining.

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