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Guidance on Facility Time for Trade Union Representatives

The University agreed a revised Trade Union Facilities Agreement with recognised Trade Unions in 2020.

The following guidance on trade union facility time is provided for managers and accredited trade union representatives.

1. Introduction

This guidance has been produced to brief line managers on their responsibilities for employees in their team who have agreed facility time to undertake specific trade union duties/activities.

The guidance has also been shared with the University’s three recognised trade unions to ensure a common understanding of these arrangements.

This guidance does not form part of the Trade Union Time Off and Facilities Agreement.

This guidance does not cover the arrangements for facility time for trade union Health and Safety representatives or trade union Learning Representatives for which separate arrangements apply.

The Trade Union Time Off and Facilities Agreement includes separate approval arrangements for trade union training for trade union representatives, which must be agreed in advance by the Director of HR. See Time off for Trade Union Representatives to attend training: Request Form

Any line manager queries/issues with this guidance and/or its application should be referred to their HR Business Partner/Adviser.

2. Purpose

The University has agreed a Trade Union Facilities Agreement (“the Agreement”) with its three recognised trade unions – UCU, Unison and Unite.

The Agreement demonstrates the commitment of both the University and the University’s three recognised trade unions to promoting effective industrial relations. The University acknowledges the key role played by the recognised University unions in representing the views and interests of our employees both on a collective basis, i.e. conditions of employment and working environment, and on an individual basis, i.e. discipline, attendance, capability, and grievance.

The University will provide recognised trade union representatives with reasonable paid time-off to enable them to:

  • study and evaluate University proposals and associated information affecting the terms and conditions and/or working environment of the University’s employees;
  • consult with colleagues and members;
  • meet with University management;
  • communicate with colleagues and members on the outcome of consultation/negotiations;
  • prepare cases and raise issues and concerns, relevant to the company, with University management;
  • represent members on an individual basis where necessary including preparation of cases, representation at formal meetings e.g. under the discipline, grievance procedures etc;
  • attend accredited trade union training.

This list is not exhaustive and may include other activities aimed at promoting effective industrial relations between the University and its recognised trade unions and agreed by HR.

These facilities arrangements also ensure the University complies with its statutory responsibilities to provide nominated trade union representatives with reasonable paid time off to carry out certain trade union duties.

3. Facility Time Process

Each trade union is given an annual allocation of hours, commencing on 1 August and ending on 31 July, which it apportions between its elected representatives.

The list of trade union representatives details – including name, amount of facility time, role within the trade union, College/Service and trade union time allocation – will be sent by HR to managers in Colleges/Services.

A conversation between the line manager and the representative should then take place in order to arrange the release of the representative to undertake facility time as well as an adjustment to the representative’s workload to accommodate this facility time.

Representatives should normally be able to give their line managers sufficient notice to undertake facility time, following the requirements set out in paragraph 7 of the Agreement, so they are able to agree to release them from their day-to-day work responsibilities. Representatives and managers are expected to cooperate in the spirit of the Agreement to reach an agreement on what time is reasonable and when this time can be taken. It may not be always be possible to release a representative on the date/time they have requested.

To ensure the facility time taken does not extend the representative’s contracted hours, the line manager and the representative will need to agree how and when this is taken into account, recognising that trade union duties are unlikely to occur at regular or predictable intervals.

Whilst the solution needs to be agreed locally (there is no prescribed way of doing this), the principle that trade union representatives should have their facility time taken account of in their day-to-day work needs to be followed.

If managers have concerns about the impact a representative’s trade union role is having on their work, they should speak to their HR Business Partner.

Updated June 2020