If an employee decides to join a union it is important for an employer not to discriminate against that employee and to treat that employee with the same respect as all other employees.

Employers must:

  • Allow employees time off to attend two union meetings per calendar year (no longer than two hours in length each);
  • Provide information (following a written request by the union) reasonably necessary to support or substantiate claims in the bargaining process;
  • Allow the union access to the workplace (provided the request is reasonable and will not jeopardize, or interfere in, the day to day running of the workplace);
  • Meet with the union from time to time for the purpose of bargaining and must continue to bargain on other matters they have not yet agreed on even if the parties have come to a standstill on some issues.

Employers must not:

  • Advise an employee or induce them in any way, not to join a union;
  • Deny paid education leave to attend employment relations courses (provided the employee gives 14 days notice of their intention to take leave and acts in good faith); The union member must make arrangements with the employer so that business is maintained and the leave request does not interfere with the workload;
  • Advise the employee not to take part in, or discourage the employee from taking part in collective bargaining;
  • Deduct any money or wages from an employee’s pay for time spent with a union representative (remember it is a breach to deduct money from an employee’s wages without written consent);
  • Initiate bargaining earlier than 40 days before the date the collective agreement expires.

The key point to remember is an employee who is a member of a union must be treated fairly and the same as any other employee. Both employer and employee must always act in good faith.

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