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Trade Union duties on rules, annual returns and accounting records

A Trade Union is a membership-based organisation mainly made up of workers with legally binding duties on their rules, annual returns and accounting records. One of its main objectives must include the regulation of relations between workers and employers or employers’ associations. An employers’ association is a body of employers, generally from the same sector of the economy, whose principal purposes include the regulation of relations between employers in that sector and workers or trade unions. Trade unions have duties and obligations under the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 (TURLCA 1992) and case law.


A union must supply a copy of its rules to any person on request, either free or on payment of a reasonable charge. [Section 27 TULRCA 1992]

Annual Returns

A union must keep proper accounting records of its transactions, assets and liabilities. It must also establish and maintain a satisfactory system of control over its accounts, cash holdings, receipts and remittances [Section 28 TULRCA 1992]. 

Accounting Records

A union must send an annual return including accounts,  auditors’ report, rules and other matters to the Certification Officer [Section 32 TULRCA 1992]

Statement to Members

A union must send a statement to each of its members within eight weeks of sending its annual return to the Certification Officer. The statement must include the following information;

  • Total income and expenditure for the period of the return
  • How much of the income consisted of membership payments
  • Total income and expenditure of any political fund
  • Salary and other benefits provided to members of the executive, the president and the general secretary[ Section 32(A) TULRCA 1992 ].


A union must appoint an auditor to audit the accounts in its annual return [Section 33 TULRCA 1992]

Superannuation Scheme

A union must arrange for periodic examination of its members’ superannuation scheme by an actuary. The actuary must produce a report. [Section 40 TULRCA 1992]

Updated 01/03/2020


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