Trade Union Membership

A trade union is an organisation with members who are usually workers or employees.

Trade unions exist to get the best deal possible for their members. This means being on your side if there is a problem, and always fighting for better when it comes to:

  • Pay, terms and conditions
  • A decent work life where workers are safe and treated with dignity
  • Better work/life balance
  • Fairness – making sure working people have their rights at work and are treated fairly and legally when there’s a problem.
  • When you’re at work, it’s always good to know that someone is on your side – that’s our job.

Trade union membership subscriptions

All unions will charge a membership fee (‘membership sub’). This can be the same amount for all employees or based on how much you’re paid. Your trade union will tell you how you can pay your subscription when you join.

Trade unions for PAs

There are a number of trade unions that offer membership to Personal Assistants (PAs). These include:

The General, Municipal and Boilermakers Union (GMB)

GMB is a trade union that represents all workers.

They have over 500,000 members who work in every type of job imaginable across public services and in private companies too. Their members work in full-time jobs, part-time jobs or are working while they study.


UNISON is the UK’s largest union, serving more than 1.3 million members. They represent full-time and part-time staff who provide public services, although they may be employed in both the public and private sectors.

Next steps

You can find further information on GMB and UNISON trade unison websites found below.

Part of
Last Updated
28 May 2024
First Published
02 May 2022
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Please note that the information contained in this Handbook is provided for guidance purposes only. Every reasonable effort is made to make the information accurate and up to date, but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by Self Directed Support Scotland or any other contributing party.

The information does not, and is not intended to, amount to legal advice. You are strongly advised to obtain specific, personal and professional advice from a lawyer about employment law matters, or an accountant/ tax specialist about taxation matters, and from HMRC and your insurers. You should not rely solely on the information in this Handbook. Support organisations listed in this Handbook can help you find appropriate sources of advice.