stewards in Unite tops

Facility Time for Unite representatives

Time for Facility Time

Unite supports workplace organisation of members. This is often most effective if those undertaking representative roles are released from ordinary work duties – while being paid - to perform their trade union role. Paid release from work to undertake union duties is often called “Facility Time”. A Unite shop steward, a health and safety rep or another post could be released on facility time.

Effective use of facility time enhances Unite’s industrial strength, providing a greater opportunity to deliver on the union’s policies and build membership. Particularly at this difficult time, when unions and workers’ rights are under yet further attack, effective workplace representatives is crucial for Unite members. It helps deliver effective collective bargaining, the surest way we have to defend and enhance jobs, pay and conditions.

Not every workplace will currently have facility time for Unite representatives, so it is important that those who have secured facility time share their experience across the union network.

Facility time can vary across employers

The operation of the time available can be different according to the particular employer.

In many larger employers, both public and private sector, one or more representatives are often allowed full time release from ordinary duties, meaning that all of their day-to-day work is in effect conducting the business of the union and its members with that employer.

Some employers will give a percentage of release time, usually fixed, e.g. 25%, 50%, etc.

Unite knows of at least one large private sector employer which gives 100% facility time to a senior shop steward, with other shop stewards having 25% time available.

Agree your facility time

In many cases it is preferable for 100% facility time to be agreed.  Practically, lower percentages can make it difficult to deliver for members, and often those undertaking union duties will find that line management still expect the full job to be done. 

Many representatives across the union have to fight for their facility time, or they end up having to do their union work during their own time or through day-to-day negotiation.

Facility time builds union strength

There is a significant benefit for our members and representatives when the union can work through representatives who have facility time.

It is vital that Unite branches and across all sectors of the union work to explain the benefits of facility time, and to promote take up among employers, public and private.

Our union’s various sector committees should also undertake this work, sharing best practice with branches and through representative training provision.

Spread the word

If you are a Unite rep who is released on facility time, please report on the arrangements you have and the benefits to members to your branch, committees and combines.

Facility time under attack

Facility time has long been a target for the Conservatives.  This started in earnest with the Trade Union Act 2016, which required public sector employers to provide a cost audit of the impact of facility time. 

The Tories attack facility time because they understand that it supports the recruitment and retention of union members, and the delivery of union policies and services.

This is why, when fresh government attacks on facility time are launched, Unite fights to ensure that the right to negotiate facility time is protected and is not subject to any further restriction or conditions.  When these campaigns are underway, please support them across your workplace.

Further information

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