New rules on publishing information on trade union facility time
The Trade Union (Facility Time Publication Requirements) Regulations 2017 came into force on 1 April. Under the Regulations, relevant public sector employers will have to publish on their website certain information relating to trade union officials and facility time.
Who is caught by the regulations?
Public sector employers who are caught by the Regulations are listed in Schedule 1 and include NHS bodies. In addition, employers must have at least one employee who is a relevant union official, namely a trade union official, a trade union learning representative or a safety representative in accordance with the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
If the “employee number condition” is met for the relevant period, the employer must provide the information set out in Schedule 2 of the Regulations. The relevant period will run for 12 months from 1 April each year, with the first relevant period commencing 1 April 2017.
The employee number condition is met if the employer has more than 49 full-time equivalent employees for any seven months in the relevant period.
What information must be published?
The information must be set out in tables as laid down in Schedule 2 of the Regulations, and published before 31 July following the end of the relevant period. The tables must include the following information:
- Table 1: The number of employees who were relevant union officials during the relevant period, and the number of full-time equivalent employees.
- Table 2: Percentage of time spent on facility time for each relevant union official.
- Table 3: Percentage of pay bill spent on facility time.
- Table 4: Number of hours spent by relevant union officials on paid trade union activities as a percentage of total paid facility time hours.
For these purposes, facility time is defined as time that is taken off to carry out trade union duties or the duties of a union learning representative, to accompany a worker to a disciplinary or grievance hearing, or to carry out duties and receive training under the relevant safety legislation.
The Regulations also grant the power for the Government to make further regulations exercising “reserve powers”, after a three year lead-in period and where it is appropriate to do so. Such further regulations would enable employers to cap the paid time off taken for facility time as a percentage of the employer’s total pay bill. It is anticipated that the cap will only be used as a last resort if publication of the figures does not lead to the required efficiency savings and deliver value for money for the taxpayer.