3. Role of your trade union rep

A trade union representative (‘rep’) is a union member who represents and gives advice to colleagues when they have problems at work.

Trade union reps aren’t paid but they do get paid time off to do their work as a rep.

What do union reps do?

Reps are there to:

  • discuss any concerns you have about your employer
  • go with (‘accompany’) you to disciplinary or grievance hearings with management
  • represent you in negotiations (‘collective bargaining’) over your pay and terms and conditions of employment
  • meet with your employer to find solutions to workplace issues
  • develop the best possible health and safety procedures with your employer

Employers must consult with union reps if:

  • there is going to be a business transfer or takeover
  • they are planning to make 20 or more people redundant within 90 days

Your right to be accompanied

You have the right to be accompanied by your union rep to some meetings with management - eg if:

  • you’re facing a disciplinary charge
  • you wish to raise a grievance with your employer

If your union rep can’t attend, you may be able to rearrange the meeting or ask a work colleague to go with you.

Becoming a union rep

If you want to become a union rep, ask another rep in the workplace or contact your union through its website. Depending on union rules, you may be appointed or elected.

If you become a union rep, find out what rights you have.

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