Under the Employment Relations Act 2000 (ERA), any group of employees can set up and register as a union. To do this, the group must first be an incorporated society — under either the Incorporated Societies Act 1908 (1908 Act) or the Incorporated Societies Act 2022 (2022 Act) — and then register as a union under the ERA.
To be eligible to register as a union the ERA states your organisation must be independent of employers.
Your organisation must also have:
- a minimum number of members (for societies registered under the 1908 Act this is 15 members, for societies registered under the 2022 Act the minimum is 10), and
- a set of rules or a constitution that complies with the Incorporated Societies Act and the Employment Relations Act.
Before applying to register as a new incorporated society and register as a union, please ensure that you —
- Understand the requirements of the 2022 Act , and have read the information on our Incorporated Societies Register website about starting an incorporated society.
- Understand the union registration provisions in the ERA , and have read the information on this website about what the Act requires.
- Read the information on this website about how to create a constitution or set of union rules.
How to apply for registration as a union
Once your organisation is registered as an incorporated society you can then apply to register as a union.
What you’ll need to provide
Your application to register as a union must include:
- the completed application form (Form RU1), signed by an officer of the union.
- a statutory declaration, also signed by an officer of the union.
The statutory declaration should set out the reasons why the society is entitled to be registered as a union. The union officer who makes this statutory declaration needs to carefully consider the requirements of the ERA before signing the declaration.
- If the society was incorporated before you complete this application, include copies of —
- the society’s certificate of incorporation
- the society’s rules or constitution as lodged with the Registrar of Incorporated Societies (see note).
Complete your application
Complete the application form (Form RU1), ensuring it is signed by an officer of the union.
Send the completed form and statutory declaration, together with the copies of your society's rules or constitution and your certificate of incorporation to us.
Registrar of Unions
Private Bag 92061
Victoria Street West
What happens next
If your application is in order and complies with the ERA, we will register your union and send you a certificate of registration.
If you applied for incorporation as a society at the same time, we'll also send you the certificate of incorporation.