Exclusion or expulsion from trade unions
Exclusion or expulsion from trade unions

The following Employment practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Exclusion or expulsion from trade unions
  • Common law right
  • Statutory right
  • Protected conduct
  • Enforcement of statutory right

An individual has a statutory right not to be excluded or expelled from a trade union, save in certain specified circumstances. There is also a more limited common law right relating to exclusion or expulsion.

Common law right

An individual who has applied to become a member of a trade union may have the right not to have his application rejected arbitrarily or capriciously. However, in light of the statutory right considered below, this limited common law right is unlikely to be of any practical use.

A member of a trade union may not be expelled from the union other than in accordance with the union’s rules. It also appears that the union may be required to comply with the rules of natural justice before expelling a member. This common law right may be of practical use in some cases, because a Court may use it to justify granting an injunction to prevent an expulsion taking place: injunctions are not available under the statutory right.

Statutory right

An individual may only be excluded (ie refused membership) or expelled from a trade union where:

  1. he does not satisfy an enforceable membership requirement in the union’s rules, or

  2. he does not qualify for membership because the union only operates in a particular part of Great Britain, or

  3. he is not employed by a particular employer, in the case of a union

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