Facility time in the community sector

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2016 Community Service Group Conference
6 November 2015

Conference notes within the community sector it is can be difficult to negotiate paid time off for trade union workplace representatives to carry out trade union duties, particularly in smaller workplaces.

Workplace reps are entitled to paid time off to cover trade union duties related to collective bargaining on issues including terms and conditions of employment, redundancies, job evaluation, family friendly policies, discipline, individual representation, meetings with management, keeping members informed about negotiations.

Conference notes that equality and self organised group representatives make an important contribution to promoting fairness and equality at work, and pushing employers to comply with equality legislation.

Facility time has been systematically attacked by Tory politicians and pressure groups hostile to trade unions. The Trade Union Bill 2015 seeks to further erode our rights by:

1)requiring unions to publish the percentage of money spent on facility time and taken up with different trade union activities.

2)introducing new powers requiring all public sector employers to publish information on the amount of money used for trade union facilities, including paid time off for local representatives.

Further, it gives the government the power to cap the amount of money public authorities can spend on facility time. A cap can also be imposed on individual types of trade union duties and activities, such as health and safety, workplace learning and representing members. Although most parts of our sector are not public authorities, the Office for National Statistics has recently reclassified housing associations as public bodies.

Research by NatCen has highlighted the valuable role trade union representatives play in public services, enabling meaningful consultation and negotiation within workplaces, improving workplace relations and employers’ reputations, early interventions to prevent grievances escalating into more serious problems and saving jobs during restructuring and redundancy processes. This conference believes that facility time pays dividends for both employers and workers.

Conference notes that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers, as well as workers in other protected groups, continue to face prejudice and discrimination. Restrictions on facility time will erode the work done by trade unions to improve equalities and remove one of the best protections employees currently have from discriminatory treatment.

Conference is concerned that trade union activities and facility time within the community sector will become increasingly difficult to negotiate and manage.

Conference therefore calls on the Community Service Group Executive to work with the self-organised groups and young members group and:

A)Circulate updated guidance on negotiating facility time

B)Include clear advice on equalities duties and activities

C)Keep branches up to date with developments in this area.