Facility time

Stewards have a legal right to time to carry out their duties; although that doesn’t necessarily mean any other activities.

Facility time is time off from an individual’s job, granted by the employer, to enable a rep to carry out their trade union role. In some cases, this can mean that the rep is fully seconded from their regular job, enabling them to work full time on trade union tasks. It can also mean an employer allows a rep to carry out trade union duties and activities, instead of their substantive job, for a certain amount of time per week or month.

The right to time off

In workplaces where the trade union is recognised, trade union workplace representatives have a right to paid time off for the purpose of carrying out their trade union duties or to take part in union training.
This right applies to:
  • workplace reps
  • health and safety reps
  • union learning reps
  • information and consultation reps.

Duties covered

Workplace reps are entitled to paid time off to cover the following duties:
  • trade union duties related to collective bargaining, on issues like: terms and conditions of employment; redundancies; job evaluation; family friendly policies; discipline; trade union facilities; and negotiating machinery
  • Individual representation
  • meetings with management and preparation for these meetings
  • keeping members informed about negotiations.

There’s been some negative publicity about facility time in recent years – much generated by conservative lobby groups – but the truth is that good employment relations increase productivity and efficiency.