All workers have the right to:
- choose to join, or not to join, a trade union;
- participate in lawful union activities;
- belong to a trade union of their choice, even if it is different from the one recognised by their employer;
- belong to more than one trade union.
An employer cannot discriminate against you for joining a trade union. In addition, you cannot be refused employment, treated unfairly at work or dismissed for joining a trade union. If your employer does discriminate against you, you may be able to make a complaint to an employment tribunal.
Under the law, an employer or employment agency is not allowed to insist that you leave a trade union or leave one union for another.
Under section 145A of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Consolidation Act 1992, it is unlawful for an employer to offer a worker an inducement not to join a union or not to take part in union activities.
It is also against the law for your employer to refuse you employment, dismiss you or subject you to any detriment because your name appears on a ‘blacklist’ (a list of individuals who have been or are trade union members, or who have taken or are taking part in trade union activities).
*for example, police constables, sergeants, inspectors and chief inspectors are served by the Police Federation, which is not officially a union. However, other categories of police staff do have the right to join a union.