Ballot Procedure (Trade Union Recognition)

Date of ballot

The union and employer should agree on the date of the ballot, which should normally take place within 15 working days of the conclusion of the access agreement. Where it has not been possible to reach agreement, the ballot should take place within 15 working days after the breakdown of talks aimed at agreeing access.

For the ballot to be valid, all employees employed in the bargaining unit must be entitled to vote and given an appropriate opportunity to do so. The ballot should be conducted in such a way as to ensure that those voting do so in secret.

Location and time of ballot

In most cases, a ballot should take place at the workplace, or the union and employer may agree that the ballot should take place by post, or by a combination of the two.

The time available for voting should be agreed between the union and the employer but must be such as to ensure that all employees entitled to vote have an opportunity of doing so without incurring any additional expense or any loss of pay or benefits.

Absent employees

The union and employer should agree on how best to ensure that absent employees are given the opportunity to vote. If no agreement is reached then the Code of Practice states that each employee absent on the day of the ballot must be sent a ballot paper by post and given two weeks to return the ballot paper, either in person or by post.

Balloting arrangements

The precise arrangements for conducting the ballot and counting the votes are to be agreed between the union and the employer.

In the absence of any agreement to the contrary the following protocol is set out in the Code of Practice:

  • Each employee entitled to vote should be issued with a single ballot paper. Each ballot paper should be numbered to ensure that only valid ballots are counted. No record should be kept of which numbered ballot any employee was given.
  • The ballot paper should ask a single question to this effect: 'Do you agree that the [insert name of union] should be recognised by [insert name of employer] for the purposes of collective bargaining'.
  • Ballots should be placed in a box suitable for the purpose.
  • This box should either be sealed in an appropriate way or supervised for the duration of the ballot by representatives of both the union and the employer, or an independent party appointed for the purpose.
  • At the end of the balloting period, the box should be opened and the votes counted either by both the representative of the union and the employer, or the independent person.
  • The result of the ballot should be put in writing and a copy given to the employer and the union.
  • The ballot papers should be kept for a period of three months following the ballot, either by the independent person or by the employer, and destroyed at the end of that period.

Ballot result.


  • more than 50% of those entitled to vote have done so, and
  • more than 50% of those voting in the ballot vote in favour of recognition

then the union should be granted recognition.

March 2015

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