Guide

Trade union membership rights

Trade union membership rights of job applicants - employment agencies

An individual has the right not to be refused the services of an employment agency because:

  • they are not a member of a trade union, or will not agree to become a member
  • they are a member of a trade union or will not agree to cease being a member
  • they will not agree to make a payment - eg to a union or charity - in lieu of union membership or to allow a prospective employer to deduct a sum of money from their pay to make such a payment

It is unlawful for an employment agency to refuse its services in contravention of any of these rights.

What is meant by the term 'trade union'?

The term 'trade union' means:

  • any trade union
  • a particular trade union
  • one of a number of particular trade unions
  • a particular branch or section of a trade union
  • one of a number of particular branches or sections of a trade union.

What is meant by an 'employment agency'?

'Employment agency' means any person or organisation that provides services - whether for profit or not - for the purpose of finding employment for workers or supplying employers with workers.

A trade union is not regarded as an employment agency if it provides services only to its own members to assist them in finding employment.

However, if a trade union provides such services to non-members, it will be regarded as an employment agency.

Refusal of the services of an employment agency

A person who seeks to use the services of an employment agency will be regarded as having been refused that service if the agency:

  • refuses or deliberately omits to make the service available to them
  • does not provide the service to them on the same terms as it provides the service to other people
  • causes them not to make use of the service, or to stop making use of it, eg by making threats or discouraging remarks

Where a person is offered the service of an employment agency, subject to any of the requirements listed below, and they do not accept the offer because they do not satisfy the requirement, or are unwilling to comply with it, they will be regarded as having been unlawfully refused the service for that reason.

The requirements are that:

  • they are - or should - remain a member of a trade union
  • they should take steps to become a member of a trade union
  • they are not - or should not - become a member of a trade union
  • they should take steps to cease being a member of a trade union

Employment agency advertisements specifying trade union membership requirements

Where an advertisement about the services of an employment agency specifies any of the union membership or non-membership requirements listed above, a person who does not satisfy the requirements, or is unwilling to comply with them, and who seeks use and is refused the services, will be presumed to have been refused them unlawfully.

'Advertisement' means every form of advertisement or notice, whether to the public or not. For example, it could be a list of job vacancies supplied by an employment agency to people who have registered with that agency.