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Union Membership

Find out more about the benefits of being a member of the PDA Union, your entitlements as a union member and union membership options


The face of pharmacy is constantly changing. Community pharmacy employer organisations are getting larger and are exercising more power and influence on the political and pharmacy practice landscape. The NHS is constantly going through change programmes and as a consequence is leaving staff casualties in its wake. Pharmacists employed in both hospitals and Primary Care Trusts are feeling the pinch of these changes.

In addition to confronting inequalities, popular opinion amongst pharmacists suggests that they want an organisation that is influential and proactive in putting forward the voice and ideas of the silent majority of pharmacists – the employees and locums.

At the PDA, we take our members’ opinions very seriously, and many members were telling us that it was time for us to react to the hostile changes in the pharmacy working environment by becoming a union.

Union status has provided many added benefits and statutory rights under current law to PDA members. Having a union arrangement along side a risk management-orientated organisation such as the PDA has enabled us to make an even more effective and meaningful impact for individual pharmacists where it really matters – with the government the regulator and  employers.


What are my union entitlements?

  • Individual rights of representation

Being a member gives you as an individual a statutory right to be represented by your union in disputes, consultations and negotiations with your employer.

  • Collective bargaining rights

Under certain conditions, union membership gives members statutory collective rights to negotiate with and be consulted by individual  employers. Collective bargaining rights have already been agreed with certain employers such as Boots and Lloyds as well as some employers in other sectors such as the GP Practice based Federations in Northern Ireland. Recognition requests are currently underway with other pharmacist employers.

  • Access to expert advice fit for purpose

The PDA Union is a focused, properly-resourced pharmacy-driven organisation, employing full-time experienced pharmacists and lawyers whose advice on employment issues is at the disposal of union members.

  • PDAU staff are fearless and robust when conducting representations or campaigns

We know that some individuals will not take on their employer for fear of reprisals. Our staff have no such fear should they confront them on behalf of our members; we only have fairness and justice at the heart of what we want to achieve.

  • You get to decide

The PDA Union is subdivided regionally, with representatives from different areas of pharmacy practice on each regional committee to ensure that the wide variation of roles within the profession are represented. Each region has representatives of community employees, hospital employees, primary care, GP Practice and locum pharmacists.  Pre-registration pharmacist trainee’s and pharmacy student undergraduates are represented centrally, with an elected representative attending the national executive. Each regional committee has a place by right on the national executive, so you can be sure that your issues and concerns relevant to your field and location are addressed.

  • A credible powerful voice articulating our collective issues.

The PDA Union will carry significant weight as it seeks to influence employers, government and other decision-making bodies through a democratic mandate of a large group of practicing pharmacists.

  • Regular communications and updates on key employment matters.

The PDA and the PDA Union will send out regular communications appertaining to members’ employment rights and collective course of action. Members must be aware however that there is strict legislation that governs industrial action and the PDA Union must abide by those laws or be levied with significant fines which could expose the organisation and its members.


There are two types of Union membership

Full PDA/PDAU Membership

If you join the PDA you have the option to join PDA Union for no extra charge; an agreement has been reached with insurers in which they vire your Union annual fees over to the Union.

This means that any action, taken on behalf of an individual member which requires legal representation at an Employment Tribunal, will be covered under this membership scheme because of the insurance* in place.

This classification of membership does of course provide all the benefits of being in a union as described in the previous section.

There are other benefits which will apply and include full liability against medical negligence claims, legal defence cover, which will pay for any coroner’s court legal representation or regulatory investigations and public liability insurance (see PDA membership benefits link for more details).


Union only membership

This classification will provide you with all the benefits of being in a union as described in the previous section entitled “What are the benefits of being a PDA Union member”.

Members who opt for this classification will have all the democratic and statutory rights associated with membership of the Union but there will be no financial backup to pay for legal expenses should an action escalate as far as an Employment Tribunal and consequently such action will need to be self-funded by members. The Union legal team will advise you up to the point that you will need to secure the services of legal representation in the court. There is no insurance to cover the costs from this point.

As at 4 October 2018, standalone membership of PDA Union costs £240 per year.  For many pharmacists it will cost less than this to have full PDA/PDAU membership including insurance cover, as described above.

So why take the risk when you can have total peace of mind. If you take out full PDA/PDAU membership rather than Union only, you will have professional, criminal and employment protection insurance as well as union status. In addition you will be entitled to all the other benefits that a defence association can give.

*The insurance included with PDA membership is arranged and administered by The Pharmacy Insurance Agency (PIA) Ltd who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (Register No 307063).





To join the PDA Union as a standalone member please send an email to to request an application form.

The Pharmacists' Defence Association is a company limited by guarantee. Registered in England; Company No 4746656.

The Pharmacists' Defence Association is an appointed representative in respect of insurance mediation activities only of
The Pharmacy Insurance Agency Limited which is registered in England and Wales under company number 2591975
and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (Register No 307063)

The PDA Union is recognised by the Certification Officer as an independent trade union.

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