Union reps have a right to reasonable paid time off to carry out union duties and undertake training. They also have the right to reasonable unpaid time off to undertake union activities. There are separate regulations covering union health and safety reps, workplace representatives and union learning representatives (ULRs).
Union reps represent the best of the trade union movement. Every day, in thousands of workplaces, our reps provide individual and collective support to their colleagues on a range of issues. Union reps need access to high quality union training to enable them to do this effectively
They give advice and guidance on
Union reps have a right to reasonable paid time off to carry out union duties and undertake training. They also have the right to reasonable unpaid time off to undertake union activities. There are separate regulations covering union health and safety representatives, workplace representatives and Union Learning representatives (ULRs).
Guidance for unions and employers on facility time was published in 2010 in the ACAS Code of Practice on Time off for Trade Union Duties and Activities.
The ACAS Code says
“There are positive benefits for employers, employees and for union members in encouraging the efficient performance of union representatives’ work, for example in aiding the resolution of problems and conflicts at work. The role can be both demanding and complex. In order to perform effectively union representatives need to have reasonable paid time off from their normal job.”
Download The ACAS Code of Practice (pdf)
TUC Education has produced an eNote – a short module of online learning – that covers the rights of union reps to access training and the obligations of employers to allow them to do this. It includes a link to the ACAS Code of Practice.
The ACAS Code emphasises that training is important for union reps to enable them to carry out their duties and that it should be available to both new and experienced reps.
Representatives of a union recognised by the employer should be allowed reasonable paid time off to undergo training in aspects of industrial relations activities relevant to the trade union duties that they carry out. The Code gives the following examples of relevant training;
Health and safety representatives are entitled to paid time off for any training that is considered reasonable to help them carry out their functions. The guidance on paid time off for training in the ACAS Code also covers time off for training for union learning reps.
TUC Education provides a range of blended and online courses for union reps. Find out what’s available in the course directory.
Online learning should not be an alternative to paid release from work. The law still applies, whether learning takes place away from work or in work. It could be more convenient both for reps and employers for learning to take place at work.
But reps will still need time allocated at work to complete their learning.
eNotes are a set of online resources developed by the TUC to help reps stay up to date on key workplace issues. Each eNote takes between 20 and 40 minutes to complete and contains a mixture of text, video and interactive quizzes. There are currently over 30 eNotes available on a wide range of topics.
You can use the Facility Time eNote to help you understand what the ACAS guidance provides for.
There are also a wide variety of topics covered by TUC Education webinars that are available to view online.
The ACAS Code includes guidance on;
Perhaps the most important distinction made in the Code is the right to paid and unpaid time off depending on whether reps are undertaking union duties or activities.
In short, reps have a right to paid time off for duties but not for trade union activities.
The ACAS Code provides comprehensive guidance on what constitutes trade union duties and activities however this can be summarised as follows;
The ACAS Code provides the following examples of union duties for which union reps should be given paid time off (you should refer to Section 1 of the Code for a full description);
Whilst there are many references in the ACAS Code to ‘reasonable’ time off in relation to PAID time for union duties, the ACAS Code provides no guidance or what might be regarded as reasonable.
The view of the TUC is that, particularly in relation to union duties that involve negotiating with employers on matters that they bring to the table and representing members in disciplinary and grievances, the definition of reasonable should be what is required under the circumstances to allow reps to adequately represent members.
It follows that if limits on paid time off for duties were applied the ability of reps to represent and support our members would be restricted.
For this reason the TUC believes there should be no limit on the amount of paid time off for union duties.
The TUC Education website sets out all our training offer for union reps.