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Reps are the backbone of the trade union movement because they link workers, employers and unions. If you’re having trouble at work, your rep should be your first point of contact.

Union reps have a wide range of roles in the workplace. These include:

  • supporting and advising members on workplace issues
  • representing workers with problems and accompanying them to grievance or disciplinary hearings
  • recruiting members
  • negotiating with employers
  • acting as a link between the workplace and the union.

Union reps are entitled to reasonable paid time off from work to perform their union duties (e.g. negotiations with the employer or accompanying colleagues to hearings).

Where a union is recognised in a workplace, there is usually an agreement in place, often called a ‘facility agreement’, that sets out the time reps can take off for their union duties, and the facilities they will be provided with, such as access to a private room where members can meet with their rep to discuss their concerns.

The way reps are chosen varies between unions. They can be elected via a ballot or at a meeting, and their appointment should be approved by the union.

If you’re having an issue at work and are a union member, you can approach your rep for advice.  

Are you a rep? You can find more practical advice on a range of workplace issues in our support for reps section

Have I got the right to choose who comes with me to meetings with management?
Yes. You have the right to choose who accompanies you to meetings with management.
What is a union safety representative?
A safety rep is a fellow worker elected by other union members to look after the health and safety at work of people they work with. The work that they do benefits everyone in their section, both union and non-union workers.
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