Every employee has certain basic rights in UK employment law, which we discuss in a series of blog posts.

A trade union is an organised association of workers in a trade, group of trades, or profession formed to protect their rights and interests in the workplace.

Research shows that trade union members receive 12.5% higher pay compared to the non-members in the same job post. Unions also help employees with disciplinaries and grievances and sometimes provide access to legal help with tribunal claims.

Basic right no.6 - right to join a trade union 1You have the right to join a trade union.  You also have the liberty to choose the trade union you like. You are not required to join a union which is recognised by your employer. A union with enough support has the right to be recognised by an employer, giving it certain rights.

Employees have the right to take part in trade union activities without suffering a detriment but they don’t have the unalloyed right to participate in trade union actions (e.g. strike). Such activities should be either carried outside typical working hours or you face the risk of warnings and even dismissal. The reason strikers are not usually dismissed is that they come out in great enough numbers to make dismissal impractical for the employer. The employer is not required and doesn’t tend to pay salaries for the time spent on union action.

If an employee is treated unfavourably for being a member of a union or for participating in union activities, they may have a valid employment tribunal case.

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