How to complain about your union


Complaining about your union

You can complain to the Certification Officer about a trade union if you’re a member. You might also be able to complain if you’re not a member of a trade union, eg you’re a candidate in an election run by a union.


What you can complain about

The make a complaint guidance has a full list of the complaints you can make to the Certification Officer. You can complain if you think the trade union has:

  • broken its own rules, eg. about holding elections or ballots
  • broken laws on running trade unions, eg not holding a proper ballot on a proposed merger of trade unions or not providing access to accounting records
  • You can also complain about trade union funds being used illegally or in a way that breaks the financial rules of the union, known as financial irregularities.
  • You don’t have to be a member of a trade union to complain about financial irregularities.

What you can’t complain about

You can’t complain about what a union does for you, eg representing you if you’re unfairly dismissed. You should get legal advice instead.


Complain to your trade union first

  • Your trade union will have a complaints procedure. Use this to try and resolve the problem before taking it to the Certification Officer.
  • You can take your complaint further if you’ve been through all the steps in your trade union’s complaints procedure and you’re still not satisfied.

Complain to a court

You might be able to take your trade union to court, eg for breach of contract if it breaks its own rules. You should seek legal advice before you do this. You can’t complain to the Certification Officer and the courts about the same problem.


Complain to the Certification Officer

Make a complaint.

Attend a hearing.

Get a decision.


This content is subject to Crown Copyright

Source: DirectGov


Resources Available

Employee Representative Guide for non-union workplaces


Disciplinary action and capability

Discrimination at work


Best of the Web

Complain to the certification officer about a trade union or employers association

Application form to make a complaint about a trade union

Certification Officer: The determination of complaints by the Certification Officer under the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

Certification Officer: Guidance on the disclosure of identity of individuals making applications and complaints to the Certification Officer

Certification Office Guidance: Making a complaint to the Certification Officer against a trade union under the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 (August 2013)



This resource is published by Employee Rescue Limited. Please note that the information and any commentary on the law contained herein is provided for information purposes only. The information and commentary does not, and is not intended to, amount to legal advice. Employee Rescue accepts no responsibility for any loss occasioned to any person acting or refraining from action as a result of the material contained in this publication.  Further specialist advice should be taken before relying on the contents of this publication.

You can send an e-mail to; for such specialist advice if required.


Case Study

In the Scottish case of Collins v First Quench Retailing Ltd [2003], Ms Jacqueline Collins was awarded £179,000 from her employers when the off-license she managed was robbed. Ms Collins had been the manager of Victoria Wine, run by First Quench Retailing, for about ten years. When Mrs Collins started in the shop she had been concerned about security and raised this with management. Since 1977 there had been 13 reported crimes at the shop, including five thefts, one minor assault, one serious assault and one assault with intent to rob. There were two armed robberies in 1994 and four... Read More
Ms Jacqueline Collins was awarded £179,000 from her employers when the off-license she managed was robbed.Collins v First Quench Retailing Ltd
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