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Schools and colleges have until Tuesday 31 July 2018 to publish their first report setting out how much time their trade union representatives spend on “facility time.”

Employers have to publish their report on their own website, as well as on one set up by the government. The government’s website is not yet available, but we have been told it will be up and running by Sunday 1 July 2018.

The Trade Union (Facility Time Publication Requirements) Regulations 2017 came into force on Sunday 1 April 2018. Public sector employers must collate and publish a range of data on the amount and cost of facility time within their organisation.

What is facility time?

Trade union representatives have a legal right to be given reasonable time off from their normal job to undertake trade union duties and activities. They must be paid for performing “duties” but do not have to be paid for performing “activities” (although they may have a contractual right to be paid).

Duties involve:

  • Negotiations with a school/college relating to collective bargaining on matters in respect of which the trade union is recognised by it
  • Receipt of information from the school/college – and consultation by the employer – in accordance with the statutory provisions relating to collective redundancies or TUPE
  • Accompanying workers at a disciplinary or grievance hearing (provided they have been certified by their union for this purpose).

This includes time to prepare for negotiations, attend relevant meetings and inform members about progress and outcomes. 

There is no legal definition of what amounts to an activity. However, there must be a genuine connection between the activity and the relationship between the school/college, employee and trade union.  This might include:

  • Attendance at workplace meetings to discuss and vote on the outcome of negotiations with the employer
  • Meetings with full-time officials to discuss issues relevant to the workplace
  • Voting in properly conducted ballots on industrial action
  • Voting in union elections.

Do you have to comply?

The Regulations do not apply to devolved Welsh authorities. Otherwise, you have to comply if you:

  1. Are a public authority
  2. Have at least one trade union representative
  3. Employ the equivalent of 50 or more full-time equivalent employees during any seven months in the 12 month period starting 1 April each year.

This applies to nearly all colleges and schools, including those that are maintained, voluntary aided, foundation and academies etc.

What do we have to publish?

The first report must provide data for the period from Saturday 1 April 2017 to Saturday 31 March 2018 and must be published by Tuesday 31 July 2018.

You must provide:

  1. The number of your employees who were relevant union officials
  2. How many of those employees spent a) 0%; b) 1-50%, c) 51-99% or d) 100% of their working hours on facility time
  3. The percentage of the total pay bill for this time
  4. The time spent on paid trade union activities as a percentage of total paid facility time.

You will have to undertake the same exercise each year.

You should not be able to identify individual employees from the information – this will cause problems if you only have one trade union representative. Government guidance recommends that you provide a notional hourly cost rather than their actual hourly cost to avoid details of their pay being put in the public domain.

Where do we have to publish this information?

Information must be published on your own website and on a website maintained by the government. However, the government website is not expected to be up and running until Sunday 1 July.

Please note – if you produce an annual report and accounts, you also have to include facility time data in the staff report.

Where can I find more information?

The government has produced supporting guidance, which is available here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/713318/Public_Sector_Facility_Time_publications_requirements_guidance.pdf

Key Contact

Siobhan Mulrey