Facilities time

Read more about facilities time for trade union reps.

2 September 2020

Time off for Trade Unions is crucial for partnership working

The Social Partnership Forum understands and values the positive contribution that partnership working makes to the delivery of quality health and social care.  There is a growing body of evidence to show that partnership working between employers and trade unions is an effective way to support the workforce, to ensure that staff feel valued, and are involved and consulted on the decisions that affect them in the workplace. 

Trade union representatives undertake a variety of roles within an organisation – working with managers, communicating and consulting with staff, resolving problems and conflicts at work, jointly developing workplace policies, promoting workplace learning, resolving health and safety issues, handling disciplinary and grievance matters, and much more.  To be effective, union representatives need to have reasonable paid time off from their normal job to enable them to undertake the role.

The SPF urges all organisations to agree appropriate time-off and facilities arrangements so that the trade union representatives are able to participate in local partnership activities.

Sara Gorton, SPF Trade Union Side Chair says:

 "Appropriately agreed, protected time-off and facilities for trade union representatives to undertake their role, is absolutely fundamental to delivering effective partnership working. It is not a luxury, but a necessity, and needs to be recognised as such."

Daniel Mortimer, NHS Employers says:

"Trade union colleagues play a vital role in supporting their members and in engaging with their employer, and most do this alongside their day job in our services. Proper, clear and fair facilities time agreements are therefore hugely important in making partnership working a day to day reality."

  • The example time off and facilities agreement from UNISON provides a framework for drafting a comprehensive agreement on time off for trade union duties and activities. It can be adapted to reflect the size and nature of the organisation.

    Agreements on time off and facilities vary widely. Some are no more than general statements of principle outlining flexible time off arrangements. Others are highly detailed, laying out exact amounts of time off for named union officers. The example agreement charts a middle course and covers all of the areas which should be included in a time off agreement and suggests contract language based on ‘best practice’.