How changes to the Incorporated Societies Act affect registered unions

An introduction to the law changes

On 5 October 2023, the Incorporated Societies Act 2022 (the 2022 Act) came into force. As registered unions are also registered as incorporated societies, they are affected by the changes the 2022 Act brings.

New unions

To register as a union your group must be an incorporated society under either —

  • the Incorporated Societies Act 1908 (the 1908 Act), or
  • the Incorporated Societies Act 2022 (the 2022 Act).

Societies incorporating from 5 October 2023 must apply under the 2022 Act.

Existing unions

Existing registered unions (which are also registered incorporated societies under the 1908 Act) will need to reregister as a society under the 2022 Act to ensure they can continue to operate.

You can apply to reregister under the 2022 Act any time from 5 October 2023 to 5 April 2026. Until your union reregisters, it must operate under and comply with the 1908 Act.

Learn more about the law changes for incorporated societies

Getting ready for reregistering

There are a few things your society will need to do before it reregisters, such as preparing some documents and possibly adopting some new processes to comply with the 2022 Act.

To find more information about reregistration and what you need to get ready, visit the Incorporated Societies website.

What happens if your union doesn’t reregister

If your union doesn’t reregister as a society under the 2022 Act before 5 April 2026, it will cease to exist. This means it would no longer be an incorporated society which has the following implications —

  • This removes your right to make decisions on behalf of your society, such as, deciding what happens to any assets it owns. The Registrar of Incorporated Societies could direct how to distribute them instead.
  • This takes away the separate legal identity your society previously had. This means members could be held personally liable for debts or obligations (such as leases) owed by the society. Similarly, your society could not sign any new contracts in its name.
  • The name your society used will no longer have any protection — another group could incorporate using the same name.
  • Your society will no longer be entitled to be registered as a union and the Registrar of Unions may apply to the Employment Relations Authority for an order directing the Registrar to cancel the union’s registration.

Key changes in the new Act

For information about the key changes in the Incorporated Societies Act 2022 and how they will affect the way societies will operate please refer to the Incorporated Societies website.

Key changes

To find out more about the law changes and what you need to do, visit the Law Changes Hub on the Incorporated Societies website.

Published 5 October 2023