UCL Human Resources


Trade Union Recognition and Facilities Agreement

Recognition and facilities arrangements for UCU, UNISON and UNITE

1. Recognition and representation

UCL recognises the trade unions UCU, UNISON and UNITE to represent its staff for collective bargaining purposes. The UCU is recognised to represent academic and research staff at all grades and professional services staff* at grade 7 and above. UNITE is recognised to represent technical, related scientific professional services staff and skilled craft workers at all grades and UNISON is recognised to represent professional services staff* in grades 1 to 6 (*except those for whom UNITE is recognised).

UCL and its recognised trade unions support collective bargaining and the principle of solving employee relations issues by discussion and agreement. All parties recognise the value to good employee relations and of staff being properly represented by one of the recognised unions. All parties believe that truly representative and effective unions enhance workforce employee relations.

The Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 (S168(1) and (2)) makes provision for employees to be given the right for time off under various circumstances. This note sets out these provisions at UCL.

The provisions of this arrangement apply to accredited representatives of the three unions, who have been duly elected or appointed by the union in question. The Trade Unions will inform the Director of HR in writing of the names of all elected representatives at the earliest possible opportunity and notify them of any subsequent changes. Recognised representatives must be current members of UCL staff and those whose names have been notified to UCL shall be the sole representatives of the Union membership and will be placed on the UCL web site.

2. The Function of Representatives and Officials

UCL recognises that the employee relations functions of trade union representatives are important duties in addition to their duties as employees of the University. Their functions and responsibilities can be summarised as follows:

  • To undertake employee relations duties operating within the policies of the Union and of UCL. Issues may include grievances and complaints, disciplinary matters, issues relating to learning, health and safety, equal opportunities, employment conditions and organisational change affecting UCL staff;
  • To communicate effectively with UCL staff who are union members and managers and to attend meetings of relevant Union bodies;
  • To represent the Union in the joint negotiating and joint consultative machinery at local, regional and national level;
  • To meet with officials or full-time union officers on matters detailed above
  • To meet with members on matters detailed above
  • To seek to ensure that agreements are adhered to;

3. Time off for representation and other general duties

Accredited trade union representatives are entitled to reasonable paid time off during working hours to carry out duties that are concerned with any aspect of collective bargaining and representation of individual members. Requests for time off will not be unreasonably refused as long as they meet the general principles laid down in this document.  Time off for trade union duties must be recorded by all trade union representatives on a common system designed for the purpose.

Each recognised union shall be entitled to nominate Lead Representatives of the Union who shall be entitled to paid release for trade union duties equivalent to 0.5 FTE shared between them. Each union’s Lead Representatives should agree a time off pattern in advance with their Line Manager. Where no set pattern is required, the Lead representative must keep a record of time used for consultation meetings to permit review of the facilities time arrangements. The department(s) in which the Lead Representatives are based will be reimbursed the proportion of their salary which is agreed to be spent on trade union duties.

4. Time Off for Health and Safety Representatives

The Trade Unions are responsible for the appointment of Health and Safety Representatives. UCL has a duty to permit safety representatives such time off with pay as is required for the purposes of:

  • performing their functions under health and safety legislation;
  • undergoing training to carry out their duties and responsibilities;
  • attending health and safety meetings at local, regional and national levels where appropriate.

5. Time off for Union Learning Representatives

  • Accredited Union Learning Representatives are entitled to take reasonable time off for the following purposes:

  • identifying and analysing learning or training needs;
  • providing information and advice about learning or training;
  • consulting UCL managers in relation to such activities;
  • undergoing training to carry out their duties and responsibilities.

6. Time off for Union Equality Representatives

Accredited Union Equality Representatives are entitled to take reasonable time off for the following purposes:

  • identifying and analysing matters relating to equality at UCL;
  • providing information and advice about equal opportunities;
  • consulting UCL managers in relation to such activities;
  • undergoing training to carry out their duties and responsibilities. 

7. Time off for Union Environmental Representatives

Accredited Union environmental Representatives are entitled to take reasonable time off for the following purposes:

  1. identifying and analysing matters relating to improving environmental concerns at UCL;
  2. providing information and advice about environmental issues;
  3. consulting UCL managers in relation to such activities;
  4. undergoing training to carry out their duties and responsibilities. 

8. Atypical arrangements 

In the case of employees who work shifts or unsocial hours, UCL will allow reasonable time off for trade union duties and normally will make arrangements when the duties fall outside their on-duty hours. Managers calling meetings will try to ensure that the meetings take place while the appropriate representatives are on duty. If a meeting is to take place on the representative’s day off or while the representative is not on duty then an equivalent amount of time off in lieu will be given at a time agreeable to both parties. If it is impossible to arrange time off in lieu then payment for this time will be made. In the case of disabled representatives, the university will make suitable arrangements and all reasonable adjustments required to allow them to carry out their responsibilities.

9. Training

Reasonable time off with pay will be granted to attend approved trade union training courses which take place in the working week, subject to adequate notice and cover arrangements being available in the Faculty/Support Service. When making a request for time off for trade union training, representatives must give adequate advance notice of course dates and content (in writing if requested) to relevant line-managers and must co-operate in making arrangements to cover jobs during the absence of representatives on courses. Notice should be given as soon as practicable, but no less than the notice required under the Working Time Regulations for booking annual leave; double the time off requested, i.e. if a one day course is requested at least two days' notice must be given for the request to be considered.

10. Trade Union accommodation and allied facilities

UCL provides accommodation to its trade unions to enable them to discharge their duties in line with this Agreement and the ACAS Code of Practice. These include the following, as required:

  1. Use of an office on the Bloomsbury campus. This accommodation shall be for the purposes of discussions with individual members and other legitimate trade union use.
  2. Use of seminar rooms and lecture theatres for union meetings
  3. Telephones and computers
  4. Building Maintenance Support Services
  5. Services (gas, water & electric)
  6. Payment of Utility Bills
  7. Payment of Business Rates
  8. Building Insurance

11. Communication of the arrangements for time off for trade union duties

UCL will ensure that managers are familiar with the above arrangements.

HR Policy and Planning
March 2014