Joining a trade union

Skip to contents of guide

Trade union membership: your employment rights

You have the right to:

  • choose to join or not join a union
  • decide to leave or remain a member of a union
  • belong to the union you choose, even if it’s not the one your employer negotiates with on pay, terms and conditions
  • belong to more than one union

Your employer is not allowed to:

  • offer you a benefit to leave a trade union
  • threaten to treat you unfairly if you do not leave a union

Refusing to employ you for trade union membership reasons

An employer or employment agency is not allowed to insist that you:

  • join or leave a trade union
  • leave one union for another

Dismissal for trade union membership reasons

Your employer is not allowed to dismiss you or choose you for redundancy because you:

  • are or want to be a union member
  • are not or do not want to be a union member
  • took part or wanted to take part in union activities

Other unfavourable treatment

Your employer must not treat you unfavourably (for example refusing you promotion or training opportunities) if you:

  • join a union
  • take part in its meetings
  • leave a union

What to do if you have a problem

You may be able to use a grievance procedure or go to an employment tribunal if you think your employer has treated you unfairly because of your trade union membership.

Contact the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) if you have any questions about trade union membership.