Frequently asked questions

I have just joined, what support can I get?

Once you join us, for the first four weeks of your membership you are only permitted one session of advice, up to a maximum of 30 minutes in length, of either telephone or email advice on any issue of concern. After four weeks, you’re entitled to the full support available to any member of the union, up to and including full representation and legal advice (unless for a ‘pre-existing issue’).

The same ‘one session/max 30 minute’ service rule applies to new members who join with what we call a ‘pre-existing issue’. That is, if you join in the knowledge that something has happened to you, or will happen to you, even after the four-week qualifying period has expired if you then subsequently seek the union’s support to deal with a pre-existing issue it will be limited to one short advice session.

Section K 2 (i) of the UNISON Rule Book says, “The member must have been in membership of the union for at least 4 weeks prior to the incident or occurrence that leads to her/him seeking legal assistance from the Union“.  The rule also applies to members who have 4 weeks, or more, arrears of subscriptions.

 

Why do we restrict early support in this way?

Union membership is not something you can dip in and out of when events at work happen which you need advice and support on. The union provides a huge range of membership benefits and makes a big difference to every aspect of your working life due to the work we do with employers negotiating on your behalf. Don’t wait for a problem –join today.

 

How much are the UNISON subscription fees?

How much you pay for your membership depends on how much you earn but members get the same benefits, support and exclusive offers. Membership costs start at just £1.30 a month.  It is a member’s responsibility to ensure they pay the correct level of subscription.

 

What does the branch spend the subs on?

Member subscriptions are paid to the union centrally. A certain proportion of the subs fund national campaigns, various organisational overheads, training, and so on. Of the remainder a percentage is remitted back to the branch and meets our local running costs and we account for this each year at the Annual General Meeting (AGM).

 

Do I need to tell my manager that I am in UNISON?  

No, union membership is your own business, but there should be no reason not to tell them if they ask. You cannot be discriminated against for union membership.

 

What are the benefits of membership?

Being a member of UNISON gives you a huge range of benefits, from legal and welfare services to financial help for education and training. Members also get discounts on a range of financial services plus special payments on death, accident or fatal accident. All this is on top of the benefit of being part of a million-strong group of colleagues speaking out to defend your rights, pay and terms and conditions at work. Members are entitled to most benefits from the day you join the union, with the exception of legal assistance and death or accident payments that require you to be a member for four weeks to qualify.

 

Does membership of UNISON entitle me to any legal advice?  

We offer several legal services to members and their families, for help with issues within and outside of the workplace. This includes assisting with workplace problems, injury claims, clinical negligence and free legal advice, wills and conveyancing.  This entitlement is after the initial four weeks of membership and does not cover pre-existing problems.

 

Is there more than one sort of membership?

You can be a retired or unemployed member or a student member if you fit those categories.

 

Can UNISON help me develop my career?  

Yes, we can train you as a steward which will boost your confidence and we can send you for further training in other areas such as employment law. There are also other training courses available. Please contact us for more information.

 

How do I join?  

You can join online at joinunisoin.org or call free on 0800 171 2193 or we can email you a membership form.

 

I have recently changed home address, will my details be updated by payroll?

No, it is your responsibility as stated in the UNISON rulebook to keep your details up to date. You can either phone or email the branch office to notify us of changes. Please quote your membership number and give us as much detail as possible.

 

What is my membership number?

When you join UNISON, you are assigned a membership number and you will have received a membership card. Your membership number is on the membership card.  If you do not have a membership card please call UNISONdirect on 0800 0857 857.

 

I have changed my working hours; do I need to inform the branch?

You should inform the branch of any changes in your circumstances as any change in your salary could affect your subscriptions. It is the member’s responsibility to ensure that their subscriptions are paid on time and at the correct level. Any mistakes could have an impact on your right to assistance from UNISON should you require it. Also, you wouldn’t want to be paying too much! If you pay by deductions from salary you may need to contact your payroll department to alter your subscription level.

 

Subscriptions

Am I paying the right level of subscriptions?

The subscriptions are on a sliding scale so you only pay what you can afford based on your salary. Payments are made monthly and are normally made via deductions from your salary or by direct debit.

 

My subscriptions have stopped and no one contacted me to say I am no longer paying. Now I have a problem, what do I do?

It is a member’s responsibility to ensure that their subscriptions are paid at the correct level and in a timely manner. The branch does keep records of joiners and leavers and if you pay via your salary then there is also this record too. You may be able to pay the subscriptions that you missed in order to receive the full benefits of membership. Contact the branch for further advice. A lot can depend on the length of time that your subs have not been paid. If you pay the deductions from your salary then you may be able to just contact payroll to ask for the subscriptions to be restarted. In some case you may need to complete a fresh membership form. Any legal assistance or representation is always given at UNISON’s discretion. UNISON does not look kindly on those who cancel their membership then wish to re-join when they have a problem.

 

My subscriptions have stopped without my asking them to stop, how do I become a member again?

You can re-join UNISON but you may be required to pay the subscriptions that you missed in order to receive the full benefits of membership. Contact the branch for further advice. A lot can depend on the length of time that your subs have not been paid. In some case you may need to complete a fresh membership form.

 

I am on a reduced salary, what should subs should I be paying?

A member whose salary is reduced for any reason for a period of one or more complete months should pay the appropriate subscription based on their pay based on and only during the continuance of such a reduced salary. The branch should be notified of the reduced salary and also again once the salary returns to its normal level. You may also need to contact your payroll department.

 

I am long term sick leave and am not being paid, can I still be a member?

Yes, members do not pay subs where leave is unpaid. So, you can remain a member free of charge, provided that all your subscriptions are paid up to the date you went on unpaid leave. You should notify the branch immediately of the change in your circumstances and again when you return to being paid or change membership status. If you become medically retired you can pay the retired members subscription. If your employment is terminated and you are not in other paid employment you should pay the unemployed members subscription.

 

I am on unpaid maternity leave; can I still be a member?

Please note that this applies to unpaid maternity leave, paternity leave, parental leave, adoption leave, dependants leave, compassionate leave and other unpaid leave. Members do not pay subs where leave is unpaid. So, you can remain a member free of charge, provided that all your subscriptions are paid up to the date you went on unpaid leave. You should notify the branch immediately of the change in your circumstances and again when you return to being paid or change membership status.

 

I have been made redundant, can I remain a UNISON member?

Yes, the rate is £4 a year. You can remain an unemployed member and receive the benefits for up to two years from the date of your redundancy/dismissal.

 

How do I cancel my membership?

If you would like to cancel your membership and pay via your salary you need to contact payroll who can stop the subscriptions being taken.  If you pay via direct debit, please contact the branch and we can cancel this for you.

 

As a rule, it is the responsibility of the member to keep their details up to date, this includes address and other contact details and the level of subscription paid. Please inform the branch office via telephone or email if you need to update your details.

 

PERSONAL ISSUES (WORK RELATED)  

I have been called to an official meeting and need someone to accompany me.

Let us know when the meeting is and we will arrange for someone to come with you if possible. You should notify HR that you wish to be accompanied and the timing of the meeting may be changed to allow a rep to attend with you. You should have been given at least five days’ notice of an official meeting, so contact us as soon as you get informed.

 

I have been asked to attend Occupational Health. What does this mean?  

If you have been off sick for a period of time, especially for work related stress you may be asked to go to OH; this is good practice and should happen. You will normally be interviewed by an OH nurse, sometimes the doctor. They are professionals, and will provide a professional assessment of your health. You will be sent a copy of the report.

 

There is a reorganisation being planned what support can I expect from UNISON?

Contact us immediately. We should have been notified by HR but if you have specific concerns contact us sooner rather than later.

 

I might be facing redundancy what should I do?  

Contact us as soon as possible. We can provide advice on a settlement agreement or redeployment and we can provide legal advice as well.

 

I have been asked to do a witness statement; I don’t know what to write 

As a health worker there are a variety of reasons why you are asked to write a witness statement.  This can be a daunting experience.  It is the most common issue that our members raise with us.  It is not unusual for people to be frightened or worried about writing a statement. Make sure that you talk this through with your representative and also read the guidelines available on our website.

 

A grievance has been taken out against me.

Disciplinary action is being taken out against me.

I am being bullied, what can I do?  

I am facing a capability hearing, what should I do?  

Contact the Branch and we will talk to you about representation and support. Do this as soon as you know about an issue.  You will need to have been in membership for four weeks prior to the incident occurring.

Depending on the situation it is a good idea to start compiling a timeline of events.  Collate any relevant emails or information you have.