Frequently Asked Questions
Why should I join Unite?
There are many reasons to join a Trade Union: but ultimately you are safer, you are stronger and you are better paid in a unionised workplace.
On average, union members get higher pay than non-members, they ensure working people are treated with respect, unions create safer workplaces, with unions across the UK training 10,000 reps each year to spot unsafe working practices and cut accident rates. Unions push managers to make workplaces more inclusive, stronger unionised workplaces are far less likely to face problems at work while pregnant, on maternity leave, or when they return to work.
What if I am not working, or retired, can I still join Unite?
If you are unemployed, then Community membership offers the ability to still be involved in campaigning, both in solidarity with working people and also on issues that affect those who are not in employment. You will also benefit from the out of work legal services as Industrial members do, the opportunity to access education courses, and get the same discounts as our Industrial membership.
Our Retired membership offers the exact same opportunities as Community membership in terms of benefits and the role they can play to our membership, but they have the opportunity to input on issues which affect the retired population in Scotland.
Unite isn’t recognised in my company, can I still join?
By law, any worker has the right to join a trade union.
As a general trade union, Unite Scotland can represent any sort of worker, in any profession or level of employment. Whilst your employer may not ‘recognise’ the trade union, this does not mean that they are able to ignore your statutory rights to be a member of a trade union, and be provided legal representation from your union.
What if I am self-employed, can the union do anything for me?
As a self-employed worker, you are entitled to the same level of representation and protection as anyone else. Whilst you might be your own employer, the majority of self-employed workers will actually be working for another party, and potentially trapped in ‘bogus self-employment’.
If you hired as self-employed, but still work for another party as part of your agreement, Unite Scotland would still be able to represent you against that party, providing you with legal advice and representation, and if you are an enhanced member of Unite, you would also be able to claim the benefits of the membership. You can also access training with Unite, which can be useful to assist you in securing other work, and keeping any of your knowledge up to date.
I work for an agency, can I still join?
Yes you can. As a general union, Unite can represent workers even if they move employment often and into different areas. Agency workers are entitled to the same union membership as they would for doing the job had they been directly recruited.
If you are an agency work, and you do decide to join, be sure to keep us updated on your work locations and employment status, so that we can get the best people in those areas to be able to represent you.
How much does it cost to join Unite?
There are different levels of membership depending on your hours worked, your annual salary and the level of cover you would like to have. As a rough estimate, membership for a full – time enhanced member costs £3.50 per week, and for our Retired and Community membership, the cost is £0.50 per week.
Apprentices also benefit from a discounted rate, and those who earn under £17,500 per year are entitled to a lower rate on their membership.
You can get the full breakdown here.
Is there a sickness benefit from Unite if I’m off sick?
Unite enhanced members are entitled to a payment from the union if they are off-sick, we call this an Incapacity Benefit. You can claim either £10 or £25 per week for up to 25 weeks, depending on if your income has been affected as a result of your absence.
There are a few caveats; you must be a member of Unite on Enhanced membership for 26 weeks for example, and we do require evidence of absence from work due to ill health/injury.
For the full terms, and to make a claim for Incapacity Benefit, contact your local office today.
Also, if you have been off sick, Unite can also offer a Convalescent Stay for up to 2 weeks at The View Hotel in Eastbourne. This is open to enhanced members to assist in their recovery from illness. Members will also be provided a balcony room at no charge (if available). Again, if you would like to apply for this benefit, contact your local Unite Office for more information.
If I join, or if I call you for advice, will you tell my employer?
No. Your Trade Union membership, and any conversation that takes place between you and your union, are for your knowledge only. Your employer also does not have the right to ask if you are in a Union specifically, so you do not have to tell them if you are not comfortable doing so.
The only time your employer would be aware of your membership is if a Union Representative was to accompany you at a meeting, or if you would like your dues to come from your wages directly (check-off), we would have to contact your payroll to inform them of this.
How do I update my details (email, phone number, employer etc?)
If you need to update your details, you can either click here to log into MyUnite, our online portal, or call your local office and ask for your details to be updated.
If you have any information that you are updating for a specific purpose (i.e. you need to amend your address for an upcoming ballot), it is recommended that you call your local office, as the ballot paper may have already been issued.
Do you need to be a member for a certain amount of time before getting representation?
No, new members are entitled to advice on any employment issue they have – even if it pre-dates them joining Unite. The Shop Steward or Regional Officer can then use their discretion as to whether they will provide representation, if required, for the member on a pre-existing issue, and will always provide representation on any new issue from day 1 of membership.
When am I covered for legal assistance?
For issues that arise outside of work, you are able to contact our free legal helpline to get assistance from one of our panel solicitors.
For legal advice and representation for work-related issues, new members are not entitled to assistance for issues that pre-date their membership of Unite, or any new issues until they complete four weeks paid membership.
I have been called to a meeting by my employer, what should I do?
Don’t panic, go along and find out what the meeting is about.
If the meeting is an investigation or disciplinary meeting, contact your local rep. If you don’t have a local rep, or they aren’t available for any reason, contact your Unite office as soon as possible to speak with your regional officer about representation.
What if I have an issue in my workplace, where do I go from here?
The first thing to do is raise it with your line manager to give them the opportunity to try resolve the issue. If you have been unsuccessful, or feel that is not appropriate, then contact your local rep or Unite office and discuss the details of your issue in order to get advice on how to move forward.
How can I become more active?
We have a section on the website with a basic guide on how to get more active and involved in the trade union movement. Click here to visit ‘How do I get more involved’.
You can also call your local office to speak with one of our Officers about how you can get more involved, and how they can assist you in doing this.
Click here to find your local office details.
What if I have an issue not related to employment but need some legal advice?
Unite Scotland offers its member’s access to legal assistance for non-work related issues via our Legal Services, which include a 24-hour helpline.
You can contact them on our Freephone number 0800 709 007.
Do you Unite do ECS/CSCS tests/cards?
Yes, we offer a number of Trade Cards at discounted rates to Unite Members. The assessments are often sat in Unite offices throughout Scotland, where we have certified invigilators who can facilitate and conduct tests.
Contact our Education Team to find out more, and to book a test date.
I heard you do free wills, is that true?
Yes, we do offer free wills to Unite members.
To book an appointment, contact your local office, who will send the request to our solicitors get an appointment for you. These usually take around a half hour, and can be conducted either at your local Unite Scotland office.
N.B. This service is quite popular, so we often ask members to wait for around a week whilst we get a solicitor assigned. The solicitor will usually call you back to confirm the time and date, so be sure that your contact information is up to date so they are able to contact you.
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